The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board has appealed for more time and resources to process the claims of martial law victims because the number of claims has reached a 75,730 as of May this year.
Claims Board Chairperson Lina Sarmiento said the Board projected to process 20,000 claims when it started its work in 2014, but the number of applications breached the 75,000 mark in May. Of this number, only about 14.61 percent or 11,071 claims have been processed.
Monetary reparations can only be distributed after all of the claims have been tackled.
The Human Rights Victims’ Reparation and Recognition Act or the Marcos compensation law provides P10 billion for the financial remuneration of victims of Martial law atrocities. These include victims of summary executions, enforced disappearances, and torture.
The law also earmarks P500 million for the establishment of a memorial, museum and library in honor of the victims of human rights violations.
With the unprecedented number of claims, Sarmiento said the Board will need more time, personnel and resources to finish their task.
“Knowing that many victims of human rights abuses during martial law are old and sick, and wanting them to enjoy their monetary and non-monetary reparations, we tried our best to adjudicate as many as possible. But after the extended application period, the number of claims spiked to a high of 75,730. The Board, through its three Divisions, have to evaluate almost four times more than what was initially projected,” he pointed out.
The compensation fund will come from the P10 billion transferred to the Philippine government from Switzerland by virtue of an Order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court in 1997. The money was adjudged by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as part of the ill-gotten wealth of formerPresident Ferdinand Marcos.
A bill filed by Representatives Ibarra Gutierrez of Akbayan party-list, Jose Christopher Belmonte and Angelina Katoh that aims to extend the processing of claims as well as additional resources and staff is pending at the House of Representatives.
“We hope the House of Representatives and the Senate will act on the extension (bill) immediately in order to ensure the Board’s fulfillment of its mandate of providing a measure of justice to the victims,” Sarmiento said.