BS Aquino’s Claims Board violates law on Martial Law victims — SELDA

Members of the SELDA National Executive Board were disappointed and enraged that up to the present, members of the BS Aquino-formed Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) HAS STILL NO LIST OF THE 9,539 victims and the 24 direct action plaintiffs in the Hawaii class action suit against Marcos who, together with the list from the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, are considered conclusively presumed human rights violations victims.

SELDA learned that the Board has requested the list from Judge Real who supposedly replied that he does not have a copy, but Swift has. “This is unacceptable and beyond belief because how can the Hawaii Court not have in its files the essential document that is the list, as part of the decision on the case?  If Swift has a true copy, why cannot the HRVCB require him to submit a copy to the Board?” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, SELDA chairperson said.

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA, Association of Ex-detainees Against Detention and Arrest) expressed even more disgust when they raised the issue to the HRVCB to publicly categorically state that the 9,539 victims and the 24 direct action plaintiffs belong to the conclusive presumption provision of the law during a meeting held very recently.

Retired PNP Gen. Lina Sarmiento, who heads the Board, stated that the Board cannot do that  because of the provision under Sec. 17, Chapter III of RA 10368 which states, “… Provided, further, That nothing herein shall be construed to deprive the Board of its original jurisdiction and its inherent power to determine the extent of the human rights violations and the corresponding reparation and/or recognition that may be granted.” Gen. Sarmiento interprets this as the Board having power to review a conclusively presumed human rights violations victim applicant’s status; ultimately twisting the interpretation of the phrase. This is a very dangerous position.

“How can that be a reason, when the provision clearly states that the Board’s power so stated in that section is limited to “determine the extent of the human rights violations and the corresponding reparation and/or recognition that may be granted”; not invalidate the status of being ML victims or violate the law’s provision on conclusive presumption of the class suit members and direct action plaintiffs who won their case in Hawaii,” said Enriquez.

“Are the HRVCB Chief and the Board parties to the delisting and disenfranchisement of 2,000-3,000 thousand ML victims? This is precisely why Selda members and other ML victims objected to Pres. BS Aquino’s appointment, as HRVCB chairperson, of a retired police general who was with the infamous Philippine Constabulary during martial law,” Enriquez added.

“Indicative proof of this is that the Board’s “Guide for non-HRVCB staff …,” advises that conclusively presumed claimants  “may submit … envelopes, letters, or photocopy of the checks signed by Robert Swift and other Hawaii Class Suit-related documents.”  This is tantamount to saying that the Aquino HRVCB approves of and will abide by Swift’s delisting of thousands of ML victims thus the use of Swift-issued documents, ” said Satur Ocampo.

SELDA thinks that the HRVCB is not exercising due diligence. In February this year, ML victims, led by former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify the appointment of PNP Gen. Lina Castillo-Sarmiento as chairperson of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

Marie Hilao Enriquez

Roneo “Jigs” Clamor
National Coordinator

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) is an organization of former political prisoners in the Philippines. Founded on December 4, 1984, SELDA was initiated by newly-released political prisoners of the martial law period.  SELDA’s primary task is to work for the release of all political prisoners and to see to it that humane treatment of those who are still in detention are complied with by the Philippine authorities.  SELDA advocates justice for current and former political prisoners.  It calls for the mobilisation of resources in support of political prisoners, former detainees and their families.  It carries out legislative advocacy for the indemnification and rehabilitation of political prisoners. SELDA goes into partnership and builds solidarity with concerned individuals and groups for the freedom and welfare of political prisoners and all victims of tyranny.

SELDA National Office:
2/F, Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets,
Brgy. Central District, Diliman
Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Tel: 632-4347486
Fax: 632-4354146
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

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