Martial-Law Victims Urge Aquino to Fast-Track Reparation Payments

To this day, not a single centavo has been given as reparation to the victims of the Marcos dictatorship.


MANILA — Survivors of martial law called on President Benigno S. Aquino III to certify as urgent the compensation bill for victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.

The call came after a recent decision of United States District Judge Manuel Real on the distribution of the $10 million settlement agreement by Marcos crony Jose Campos. The estimated valueu of Marcos’s ill-gotten wealth in Colorado and Texas is pegged at $78 million. Romy del Prado, one of the martial law victims represented by Robert Swift, settled for $10 million, 25 percent of which goes to Swift and his team of researchers. This means that only $7.5 million will be distributed to the victims or roughly $1,000 each.

In a statement, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, a victim of torture and detention during Martial Law said the settlement has proven that the Marcoses violated human rights and stashed away money that came from the nation’s coffers and allowed dummies and cronies to hold these for them. “This is a vindication for the victims and a step forward in the Filipino people’s fight against the corruption of the hated conjugal dictatorship,” Ocampo said.

To this day, not a single centavo has been given as reparation to the victims of the Marcos dictatorship.

In 1986, the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (Selda) led the filing of a class suit against the Marcoses in Honolulu, Hawaii, where the the former dictator and his family fled during the people’s uprising at Edsa. In 1995, the Federal Court of Hawaii found Marcos guilty of grave human-rights violations and awarded $2 billion in compensatory damages to the victims. There were 9,539 complainants in the class suit against the Marcoses.

In 1998, the Swiss government transferred $640 million to the Philippine government. The Philippine Supreme Court ordered its transfer to the national treasury in 2003. Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL), all sequestered assets from the Marcos family would be utilized for the implementation of land reform. Ocampo said since the Hawaii court ruled that a portion of the amount must be allocated to the victims, legislation is needed to appropriate part of the sequestered funds for the victims.

Ocampo, national board member of Selda and one of the 9,539 petitioners in the class suit, said the proposed legislation will also officially recognize that the Marcos dictatorship indeed violated the rights of thousands who fought against it; and acknowledges the State’s moral and legal obligation to render justice, through indemnification, to the victims of human rights violations during martial law.

“It has been 25 years since the dictator Marcos was ousted by people power and 19 years after the historic decision by the US court granting justice for the 9,539 victims of martial law and with a $2-billion for reparation. But for most of the victims, now very old, sickly and dying, the struggle for justice continues. Thus, in the 12th, 13th, and 14th Congresses, we filed House Bills 954 and 1693, now re-filed by the progressive party list bloc led by Bayan Muna in the House of Representatives,” Ocampo said.

The bill aims to allocate P10 billion for victims of martial law. During the 13th Congress, Ocampo said the compensation bill reached the bicameral conference committee level. “Gloria [Arroyo] ordered it stopped, upon the advice of Bert Gonzales [Norberto Gonzales then National Security Adviser]. One of the legislators stood up and called for the reconsideration of the bill and had it archived,” Ocampo told in an interview.

While Selda welcomed the recent ruling, Fr. Dionito Cabillas, Selda secretary general, said they wanted to ask Swift about the amount in the settlement and the delisting of victims from 9,539 to 7,526.

In a news report, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales said Swift asked her last November to help out in the distribution of the claims. Rosales said there could be a memorandum of agreement between the private lawyers and the CHR in the near future to facilitate the distribution.
Rosales used to head the Claimants 1081, a group of martial law victims that attempted to enter into a settlement agreement with the Marcoses in the amount of $150 million. Swift was the counsel of Claimants 1081. The agreement did not push through because of Selda’s objection.

“They [Rosales] agreed to drop all the charges against the Marcoses. They agreed to clear the Marcoses of any liability,” Cabillas said.

Romeo Ancheta, another victim of martial law, said he would not buy Rosales’s statement. “ She would help the victims?” Ancheta said in disbelief, “I would not believe that. She was one of the persons who were instrumental in the forging of the junked settlement agreement. They [referring to Rosales and Swift] are only after the money,” Ancheta told in an interview.

Cabillas also debunked Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s statement that the Hawaii court has no jurisdiction over the case against Marcos.

“The issue of jurisdiction has long been settled and the courts have issued a final judgment on Multi District Litigation 840 in the US Federal Court System in 1992 and the international community has already recognized the US Federal Court of Hawaii’s judgment as Senator Enrile knows very well. The government, of which Senator Enrile has long been part of, has even been the recipient of the benefits of the case – to remind Mr. Enrile – the Swiss Supreme Court ordered the transfer of the Marcos ill-gotten Swiss deposits in 1997 in favor of the Philippine government, precisely because the victims sued the dictator and identified the Marcos ill-gotten Swiss deposits as source of indemnification, which the government, up to now, has denied to the victims. The victims fear that the money might have already been dissipated and might have been used in the fertilizer fund scam of the Arroyo regime, of which Enrile has also been part of,” Cabillas said. (

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