“Malicious, irresponsible and anti-people”
Amid the good news of the ratification of the bill to compesante martial law victims, members of the human rights group SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) deplored the “malicious, irresponsible and anti-people” statements made by Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) chairman Andres Bautista over the weekend that the martial law victims should consider giving up their claims in the class suit filed in Hawaii, now that a bill to give compensation to human rights victims is set to be enacted into law.
“We are exasperated, disappointed and angry at such malicious and irresponsible statements made by PCGG chair Andres Bautista. Why should we give up the claims when the award is based on the judgement that the Marcos dictatorship is guilty of crimes against humanity, and therefore the Marcoses are accountable for the human rights violations committed under their reign?” said Martial Law victim and SELDA chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
Enriquez also said that the Hawaii court judgment is final and executory.
“The victims are happy that this has become a landmark decision for victims of human rights violations the world over. The entire Filipino nation must be proud of that and now Mr. Bautista is again squandering the chance to go after the violators! We have never heard of any public apology from the Marcoses after so many years, now Bautista is telling us to give up this meager amount to compensate the victims?” she said.
On September 22, 1992, the Hawaii Federal Court through Judge Manuel Real, issued a judgment on the class suit in favor of the Marcos victims. The said decision found Marcos guilty of gross human rights violations and the Estate of Marcos is liable to pay damages to the victims.
SELDA’s chairperson explained that the bill’s passage here in the legislative halls of the country is entirely different from the class suit that the 9,539 Martial Law victims filed in a Hawaii district court after the fall of Marcos in 1986.
“Bautista does not know what he is talking about. The Human Rights Victims Recognition and Reparation Bill, when enacted into law, will be the government’s mechanism to give recognition and reparation to victims of Martial Law. Since the fall of the dictator in 1986, the victims waited for the administrations after Marcos to go after the conjugal dictatorship and their cohorts, and make them accountable for the HRV’s committed during martial law. But no one did. The victims were the only ones who braved the systems, the Marcos maneuvers, the machinations of American and Filipino lawyers who supposedly helped the victims. It was they who fought steadfastly until they won a landmark case in a foreign court. Now it is being robbed again from them, “ Enriquez declared.
The group also called Bautista “anti-people,” in reacton to his statement that ill-gotten wealth by the Marcoses belong to the Filipino people.
“Bautista talks as if we are not part of the Filipino people who fought the dictator. The Swiss Supreme Court was clear in its order that the victims of Martial Law who filed charges against Marcos in the Hawaiian court must be considered by the Philippine government once the latter moves the recovered funds that were in an escrow account,” she said.
Enriquez also clarified that only one-third of the original total funds transferred from Switzerland and handed over to the Philippine government were asked by the victims as they fully know that the amount was gotten from the national coffers.
Two cases of disappearance reported to human rights groups after enactment of Anti-Enforced Disappearance LawSubmitted on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 14:10
As of January 29, 2013, Muin Kahal Hamja was presented by the authorities and was brought to Basilan Provincial Jail where his brother Muhammadiya Hamja is also detained. Human rights workers in Basilan are still trying to get a copy of his charge sheet.
Unfortunately, Shiekh Bashier Mursalum remains missing. According to an eye witness, he was first gunned down by his abductors before he was picked up and brought inside the get away vehicle on the 24th of January.
Karapatan and Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) deplored the abduction of Sheikh Bashier Mursalum and Muin Kahal Hamja, as these organizations add two more names to the long list of enforced disappearances in the country. The abduction happened after President Aquino signed the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012 in December.
“Muin Kahal and Mursalum’s disappearances show that the law itself is not a deterrent in the practice of enforced disappearance. This poses a challenge to the law against enforced disappearance and to the Aquino government to prosecute those who abducted and detained them,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general. “The law seems brave enough to make state agents criminally liable for the act of enforced disappearance but we have yet to see its enforcement,” Palabay added.
Sheikh Bashier Mursalum, a muslim scholar, was abducted by state agents last January 22 in Basilan. On January 24, Muin Kahal Hamja was abducted by armed men at 2:00 AM in his home in Bgy. Kumalarang, Isabela City, Basilan.
“We initially welcomed this new law, but the rage in our hearts remains knowing that the families of Hamja and Mursalum are searching in vain for their loved ones,” Lorena Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos, said.
Muhammadiya Hamja, Muin Kahal’s brother, was also a victim of enforced disappearance in 2001 but was located by the quick reaction team composed of members of Karapatan, Muhammadiya’s son and Commission on Human Rights investigators. “We found him hidden and tortured inside the office of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame, Philippine National Police Headquarters in Quezon City,” said Palabay.
Karapatan dared the Philippine Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prove before the Court of Appeals that the man they arrested illegally and tortured is indeed who they claim to be in their press releases as CPP’s high ranking official ‘Benjamin Mendoza’ "because clearly, they picked the wrong man," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said at today’s hearing at the Court of Appeals for detained Rolly Panesa’s Petition for Habeas Corpus.
“Panesa has been in jail for three months since his abduction on October 5, 2012, yet the government has not presented any document to prove their claim. The man should be immediately released and indemnified,” Palabay said.
Marites Chioco, Panesa’s common-law wife and petitioner to the habeas corpus case, submitted to the court Panesa’s birth certificate, baptismal certificate, school records, records of his employment, Social Security System Identification Card, Philhealth Card, driver’s license, NBI clearance and a certificate that he has gone through a training for the CAFGU.
“These are all government-issued documents and not one government agency has come out to say that these are fake documents. The AFP should admit its error because of arbitrariness on arresting Panesa,” added Palabay.
“Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s suspiciously prudent stance on the presence of minesweeper USS Guardian inside Philippine territory pales in comparison to his hysterics on China’s claim to the disputed islands in the South China Sea. Hence, it further reveals the Aquino government’s inconsistencies in dealing with the issue of sovereignty – that its loyalties and interests lie with the United States government, to the detriment of Philippine sovereignty and people’s rights,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Karapatan lamented the fact that it has been several days since the USS Guardian crashed into a part of the Tubbataha Reef but “the government only assumed a ‘business as usual’ attitude and instead raised the issue the territorial disputes with China before an Arbitral Tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
She said that Aquino is particularly interested in acquiring the US$30 million of military aid allocated by the US government. “That would explain the why the government condones the unauthorized entry of the USS Guardian at Tubbataha reef. The Aquino government had a similar reaction when a BQM-74E target drone was recovered in waters off San Jacinto town on Ticao Island, Masbate in January 7. It’s a classic display of mendicancy and subservience to the US,” Palabay explained.
The US Senate Committee on Appropriations recently recommended US$30 million military assistance for the Philippines for the use of the Philippine Navy and Air Force this year.
Karapatan took note of an increasing presence of US troops and several US war vessels in the Philippines. “The US troops’ presence and the continuing flow of US military aid for the Armed Forces of the Philippines are conspicuous factors that strengthen our belief that the US government and the Aquino administration are working double time to meet their deadline of the phase 1 of the US-inspired Oplan Bayanihan by year end,” Palabay said.
“Believe it or not, it was my first time to ride an airplane!” This was how poet Ericson Acosta greeted his supporters, friends, and family who welcomed his arrival at the Terminal III of the NAIA.
Acosta, 40, whose siblings now all live with their own families abroad, is a cultural worker and activist arrested by the military in San Jorge, Samar while doing volunteer research work for a local peasant group. Acosta has been detained at the Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail for 23 months on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives.
Yesterday, Acosta’s supporters were pleasantly surprised to confirm that the Gandara RTC in Samar granted him temporary release for a medical check-up. Acosta’s lawyers filed a motion for medical check-up in July 2012 after Acosta displayed symptoms of serious renal problems.
Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta, Chief the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) flew to the Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail with a medico-legal consultant and a paralegal team from human rights organization, KARAPATAN upon the request of Acosta’s family and the Free Ericson Acosta Campaign (FEAC).
It was found that Acosta has been suffering from nephritis, a condition characterized by blood in the urine (hematuria), lower back pains, high fever and painful urination (dysuria). These findings prompted the RTC to immediately grant Acosta’s motion for check-up, and allowing Atty. Rueda-Acosta to accompany him right away to the National Kidney Institute (NKTI) this morning.
“Matagal na naming hinihintay ang mapatingnan si Eric. I am coming to see him without my husband who also has an appointment with the doctor for his spinal ailment that has debilitated him for weeks. Gusto nga sana niyang sumama kay Attorney Persida pero hindi na niya kinaya ang sakit,” said Ericson’s 80-year old mother, Liwayway.
Dr. Erwin Erfe, medico-legal consultant of PAO said that Acosta’s ailment necessitates “thorough diagnostic examinations, possibly including renal biopsy and other specialized ancillary procedures in a specialist kidney hospital.” These facilities are not available at the Calbayog Sub-Provincial jail, and even in Samar provincial hospitals.