Reparations for human rights victims

On 25 February 2013, former President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, mandating monetary reparation for human rights victims during Martial Law under the Marcos regime. It created the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) where victims’ claims for reparations are assessed or adjudicated. The P10-billion Swiss bank deposits recovered from the Marcoses served as the fund source of the reparations.

On 12 May 2018, the distribution of monetary reparations for the human rights victims concluded. Four years after it began, the HRVCB finally accomplished adjudicating the claims for rendering of monetary compensation.

The duty of the HRVCB is to assess ‘claims’, which are cases filed to prove that a particular victim’s human rights have been violated during the era of martial rule.

The law defines human rights violations as “forcible detention, warrantless arrests, physical injury and killing, torture, enforced or ‘involuntary disappearance’, force or intimidation resulting to involuntary exile, intimidation or deceit resulting to illegal confiscation of properties and/or businesses, kidnapping, and sexual offenses committed by individuals acting in behalf of the government.”

Unfortunately, not all claims have been accepted due to lack of evidence. According to the law, the basis of approval are “detailed sworn statements narrating the circumstances of the pertinent human rights violation/s committed.”

According to the HRVCB Transition Team, only 11,103 of the whole 75,749 claimants were qualified to receive reparations. The remaining 64,646 claims failed to prove that human rights violations were committed.

Approved claims are unevenly distributed throughout the Philippines. By mapping the distribution of approved claims, one can infer the more affected areas during Martial Law. Highly concentrated areas with approved claims are Metro Manila, Samar, Negros Occidental, Davao City, Davao del Norte, and Davao del Sur.

According to Atty. Beverly Castillo of the HRVCB Transition Team, claims in Metro Manila constitute the largest area but the indicated ‘place of incidence’ is different. “Technically, hindi Metro Manila ang pinakamalaki. Malaki nga ang number of claims pero hindi doon nangyari ang violations but someplace else,” she explained.

Least concentration of approved claims are mostly distributed among the provinces of Luzon. The bulk of approved claims are from Mindanao and Visayas. This goes to show that Metro Manila is not the only area in the Philippines devastated during martial law, as some Filipinos assume; human rights violations have not spared the contingent island groups of Visayas and Mindanao.

In the Ilocos region, specifically Ilocos Norte where the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos gained exceptional popularity and adoration from the masses, numerous approved claims are recorded.

Filipinos will never forget the atrocities committed under the Marcos regime. Life in a shattered democracy can be disorienting but history yields proof of justice and injustice both.

People may die but places and spaces will never stay unseen. The power of maps exists to situate movements, allowing people to chart and visualize the endless battle for freedom and democracy.

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