Monday, February 25, 2013

At Long Last: Human Rights Victims' Reparation

If there's a ray of light on this day, the 27th anniversary of EDSA I, it's the fact that those who suffered under the Marcos regime will soon receive some reparation from the Philippine government. Today, President Benigno Aquino III will sign the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 into law.

Basically, this means that the government will budget P10 billion in order to answer the claims of those victimized by the martial law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. In addition, from the Manila Bulletin news report about the law, "Under the landmark legislation, a Human Rights Victims Compensation Board will be created to accept and evaluate applications for monetary reparation. It will use a point system to determine the amount of compensation for a victim depending on their experience."

A number of prominent victims and their relatives, notably the President himself, have already stated that they will not claim their reparation. Hopefully, this means that more victims will be aided by this piece of legislation.

This law has been a long time in coming. It's been too long. As it is, there are still many who remain missing and unaccounted for, as the agents of the Marcos regime arrested many opponents of martial law, and have never revealed their fates. The reparation will be scant recompense for the families of these victims, but, at least, it will recognize the wrong that has been done to them.

While the law benefits the victims, the wait continues for the justice that they deserve. So far, the heirs of Marcos have eluded being pinned down for the crimes and atrocities that happened during the Marcos years. In fact, a number of the Marcos family, notably, Ilocos Norte congresswoman and former First Lady Imelda, Ilocos Norte Governor and Marcos daughter Imee, and Senator and Marcos son Bongbong, have managed to hold high positions in government. The prevailing situation is a ringing condemnation of our inability to remember the past.

Still, the victims of the Marcos' excesses are finally going to receive some reparation for the suffering they've experienced. Hopefully, it means that the justice they crave will come, sooner than later.

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