Philippines: PNoy urged to form claims board for martial law victims

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) together with lawmakers and human rights victims reiterated their call for President Aquino to form the Claims Board tasked to compensate the victims of martial law.

Former Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, in a recent conference at the CHR office, said that the reconstitution of the nine-member Claims Board should be implemented because it has already been seven months since Republic Act 10368 or the Compensation Act of 2013 was signed into law last Feb. 25.

Describing the Compensation Law as a “superior law” compared to other human rights laws, even that of Latin America that has also desaparecidos (missing persons) and thousands of human rights victims, Lagman expressed fears that RA 10368 “may degenerate into a dead law” if not implemented soon.

“If the President fails to appoint the members of the Claims Board, the law will not be implemented. It will not move if the board is not constituted. Its efficacy is in limbo,” Lagman stressed.

For her part, CHR chair Loretta Ann Rosales said that the Compensation Law would correct the general presumption that martial law erroneously bred.

Claimants 1081 official Zenaida Migue expressed regret over the delayed formation of the Claims Board after the Compensation Law was signed 18 years ago.

“Before this happens, the President should immediately create the Claims Board. The Hawaii District Court was quick to act on this matter,” Migue said.

Migue was referring to the Hawaii District Court ruling to compensate the martial law victims who filed a class suit against former President Ferdinand Marcos.

The verified claimants each received an initial compensation of $1,000 last 2011 and they are expected to get another $1,000 in 2014.