HUMAN rights group Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) on Monday said that only claimants in the Hawaii case and not the entire list of martial law victims should benefit from the proceeds of the recovered artworks owned by former first lady and now Rep. Ilmelda Marcos of Ilocos Norte province.
“Atty. Robert Swift and his co-counsels must be able to explain this to the victims and to the public as well. Selda informs the public that any recovery of Atty. Swift to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court pertains and will only benefit the claimants in the Hawaii case and not the entire list of martial law victims in the Philippines as covered by the recently-signed but unimplemented RA 10368 or Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013,” Marie Hilao Enriquez, Selda chair, said in a statement.
Selda is the organization of former political prisoners which initiated the filing of the historic class action suit for human rights violations against former president Ferdinand Marcos and his family.
“We welcome the news that the victims included in the Hawaii case, would benefit from the sale of a valuable painting that Imelda Marcos acquired during the martial law years. We recognize Atty. Robert Swift’s efforts to go after the Marcoses ill-gotten wealth to collect on the judgment of the Hawaii court. However, we would like to reiterate and remind Atty. Swift and other lawyers that before any settlement and distribution of monies from such takes place, the victims must be consulted; their views on such obtained as they have a right to know who this “secret buyer” is and what the provisions of the settlement are. Even if the Hawaii court determines the fairness of the settlement by asking the victims, the latter can only reply intelligently if they are well- informed of the agreements,” Enriquez said.
Enriquez also clarified that her parents Maximo and Celsa Hilao, lead plaintiffs in the historic suit, recalled that the Hawaii Court ruled in 1992 in favor of the victims. The ruling, she said, became final and executory in 1995; providing for a $2 billion exemplary and $776 million compensatory damages for the Hawaii claimants.
“This meant that any recovery of Marcoses’ property by the Hawaii claimants’ lawyer, in this case, Atty. Robert Swift, can be undertaken to collect on the judgment imposed by the Hawaiian Court. Therefore, as long as the full judgment rendered by the Hawaii court has not been fully satisfied by the Marcoses, Atty. Robert Swift can identify Marcos’ illegal properties for the benefit of the Hawaiian claimants,” she explained.
Enriquez further said that the original 9,539 victims validated by the Court in 1994 must also be included in the beneficiaries of the said recovery.
“We do not like a repeat of the 2011 so-called check distribution to the 7,526 victims “from the settlement agreement reached by Atty. Robert Swift and the Marcos crony Jose Yao-Campos for the 2 pieces of real estate properties in the US of Imelda Marcos,” she said.
“The 2011 check distribution disenfranchised 2, 013 victims who seemed delisted arbitrarily by the lawyers in the Hawaii suit. We demand that the original list of 9,539 and not only the 7, 526 victims will benefit from this boasted sale of the Monet painting. As the judgment has not been fully satisfied yet and the lawyer can go on recovering or making settlement agreements with the Marcoses, we condemn the disenfranchisement of those delisted from the original 9, 539. Even if the original claimants have died, they are still represented by their next of kin and families as well as other relatives,” she added.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), however, maintained that the government is the rightful owner of the $10 million settlement from the artworks of the former first lady.
“The Commission wishes to reiterate the government’s sovereign claim on the ill-gotten wealth acquired by the Marcoses, including paintings bought with the Filipino people’s money,” PCGG chairman Andres Bautista said in an earlier statement.
The government, he said, has been working hard to recover the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses which rightfully belong to the Filipino people as a whole.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd earlier signed Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act into law, a landmark legislation which provides compensation to thousands of human rights victims during the Marcos dictatorship.
Under this law, a P10 billion funds or roughly $230 million, plus accrued interest, has been set aside and appropriated to finance the victims’ claims.
Lawyers Robert Swift and Rod Domingo earlier said that some 9, 000 Filipinos who sued the Marcoses will benefit from the money.
According to them, the settlement derives from litigation in New York City by the victims to recover on their judgments against the Marcoses.
Immediately after the Marcoses fled to Hawaii in February 1986, more than 200 pieces of artwork purchased by Imelda Marcos disappeared from the Marcoses’ townhouse in New York City.
In October last year, Vilma Bau-tista, a former aide of Marcos, along with her two nephews, was charged of selling artworks that the former first lady acquired during her hus-band’s presidency. These artworks, said to be worth millions of pesos, include Claude Monet’s “Le Bassin aux Nymphease” and “L’Eglise et La Seine a Vetheuil”.