Blood money: Martial Law victims get P50,000

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/08 February) – Over 200 Martial Law victims received P50,000 each on Friday as part of an indemnification for the human rights violations committed against them by the Marcos dictatorship.

The amount, which was handed out by American lawyer Robert Swift, was the second tranche derived from a US$10-million settlement over a painting owned by former First Lady and now Leyte Rep. Imelda Marcos.

Lawyer Nestor Montemor of Claimants 1081 said 175 of the claimants came from Cagayan de Oro and Northern Mindanao provinces and 30 others came from Davao City.

“This is already the second tranche of the indemnification ordered by a Hawaiian court to the Martial Law victims,” Montemor said.

A Hawaiian court in 1992 awarded US$2 billion in compensatory and exemplary damages to 10,000 human rights victims during the Martial Law administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and his family.

The indemnification formed part of a ruling on a class suit filed by at least 10,000 Martial Law victims against the Marcoses.

Swift, who represented the victims before a court in Honolulu, arrived here Friday noon from Butuan City where he also gave the same amount to each Martial Law victim.

The victims received the first payment more than a year ago.

“My struggle against the Marcos regime is not about money. It was principled resistance against an enemy of freedom,” Ruth Fernandez, a government employee said.

Fernandez was a 16-year-old student at Xavier University when the defunct Philippine Constabulary (forerunner of the Philippine National Police) arrested her when Martial Law was declared midnight of Sept. 22, 1972.

(Officially, the Martial Law edict, Proclamation 1081, was dated Sept. 21, 1972. But it was actually declared on midnight of Sept. 22, 1972. It is said Marcos used Sept. 21 as the official date because he was fond of numbers that are divisible by seven. – Ed.)

She was incarcerated in Camp Alagar with other student activists, militant workers and journalists.

Swift gave Fernandez a P50,000 check—proceeds of a US$10-million settlement derived from an 1899 painting by French artist Claude Monet owned by Rep. Imelda Marcos that the court said was illegally sold to a European millionaire.

Not all of the thousands who were brutalized during the Martial rule, however, received indemnification.

Lawyer Oscar Musni was all ears as members of Claimants 1081 explained the instructions on how those victims whose names were excluded from the list may claim compensation.

“Somewhere my application got lost. I don’t know how it happened,” Musni, who eventually became a human rights lawyer during Martial Law and beyond, said.

Montemor said those who have claims should apply with the Humån Rights Violations Claims Board that will be set up by President Aquino after Congress passed Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)