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The compensation we are

owed
By: Kay Rivera - @inquirerdotnet
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:06 AM September 24, 2018

To put it bluntly, the government owes my family money. For my father, around half a
million pesos for an unjust and prolonged incarceration after a student rally; for an
uncle injured by the police, slightly less. This is much less than what the government
owes a family friend, whose brother was murdered.

It sounds callous, even mercenary, to talk about monetary compensation for time lost,
for the disappeared and the wounded, but this is apparently the best the government can
do in addressing human rights violations committed during martial law under the
dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Amnesty International, in a statement released this week,
said 70,000 were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,200 were killed. A total of
75,749 claims for reparation were processed, and of these, 11,103 names were listed as
being eligible for compensation.

It’s as good a time as any to remember what we’re entitled to under Republic Act No.
10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. The
compensation follows a point system: The highest amount of monetary compensation is
awarded to cases of enforced disappearance and killing. Torture ranks slightly lower on
the scale, and below that, arbitrary detention and other violations.

Apart from nonmonetary compensation such as services provided by the Department of


Social Welfare and Development, RA 10368 also provides for the creation of a museum
in honor of martial law
victims.

Of the compensations, the museum is probably the most meaningful. It’s less about the
money, more about recognition and posterity. It’s this very recognition that’s being
called into question by recent events.
This month four years ago thousands were lining up to file for reparation, relying not on
mere hearsay and not solely on personal accounts, but on documents, photos, letters,
articles — all the evidence the claimants could get their hands on.

The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board has since released its list of approved
claimants and completed operations in May 2018. Shouldn’t this mean that a certain
question in history was answered?

While no apologies were issued from guilty parties in the manner of Germany
apologizing for the Holocaust, shouldn’t the reparation itself mean that the offenses
were justly acknowledged by our government and its offices, and should then be
immune to revisionism?

Apparently not, because even a former Senate president who affixed his signature on
RA 10368 would have us believe otherwise.

Former defense minister and “architect” of martial law Juan Ponce Enrile, whose name
is borne by the document acknowledging the “Deaths, injuries, sufferings, deprivations
and damages” suffered by Filipinos under the Marcos regime, sat in a cozy tête-à-tête
last week with the son of the dictator and, in not so many words, told us that these
didn’t happen.

Call it semantics, call it selective memory; call it senility even, as Aquilino “Nene”
Pimentel Jr. said wryly. Enrile’s outlandish claims are easily verified, too transparent to
be believed, but still cruel and offensive, and fodder for those who would seek to
rehabilitate the image of the Marcos offspring. The Palace’s silence on the matter, when
it could have defended those that the government is legally bound to compensate,
speaks volumes as well.

It’s 2018 and the discussion on martial law continues to devolve into a he said, she said
affair; what should be objective fact is faced with propaganda and the modern-day paid
troll. One recalls an address of Marcos himself in 1977, where he reduced so much
violence to a mere footnote, that there were “to our lasting regret a number of violations
of the rights of detainees…”
Do we still dare to hope for the Museum on Martial Law victims—a clear, unequivocal
memorial of suffering? Yes, and hopefully no further umbrage will stop the efforts of
the commissions involved in its creation. With the risk of sounding flippant, I speak for
my family and perhaps some others when I say that the government can keep its money.
Truth and recognition would be worth so much more.

kchuarivera@gmail.com

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/116286/the-compensation-we-are-


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