Press Release
April 23, 2007

Martial Law victims' compensation "automatically appropriated" - Recto

Senator Ralph Recto said money for the compensation of the Martial Law victims are deemed automatically appropriated "so there's no need for funds to go to the congressional wringer."

"The sense of Congress is not to put the annual allocations for indemnity in the national budget," he said. The source of funding, P10 billion in repatriated Marcos money from Switzerland, "is just there in the Treasury, properly earmarked, and just waiting for the law that will guide its use, " Recto said.

"The fund is off-limits for other uses. It can't be poached or raided," Recto said. Because there is no need for a separate appropriations law to trigger the release of the funds, Recto said the "first awards" can be handed out before the end of the year is deemed automatically appropriated.

The senator explained that "victims of human rights violations compensation bill" has been ratified by the Senate before it went on an election recess in February. Once Congress does the same after the May polls, the bill will be sent to the president for her to sign.

After the bill is signed, a Board of Compensation will be created and it will process the valid claims based on the order of priority specified in the bill, Recto, a co-author of the measure and a member of the Senate panel to the bicameral conference, explained.

Claims of heirs of extrajudicial killings will be processed first. Compensation will come from a P10-billion fund sourced from a $683-million Marcos wealth declared ill-gotten by the Supreme Court in 2003.

"This renders moot and academic the United Nations committee reminder that the government indemnifies victims of rights abuses, some of which happened 30 years ago," Recto said, referring to the recent call of the world body to Manila to settle its obligations with victims of Martial Law.

A tally made by a human rights group has placed at more than 10,000 the number of persons detained, murdered, and tortured from the time Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in September 1972 to his ouster by a popular revolt in February 1986.

"Two decades is a long time but it is never too late to say 'sorry' and 'thank you' to those who showed courage when it mattered most. We hope that for the many families who suffered this will help bring closure," he said.

News Latest News Feed