Regional desks for human rights victims-claimants now open in Davao, Cotabato

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /05 Sept) – Human rights victims during martial law or relatives of victims who were not able to file their application for claims during last month’s four-day intake operations in Davao City and in Cotabato City in early July may now file their claims with the regional desks of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) offices in Davao and Cotabato cities.

HRVBC Board member Jose Luis “Chito” Gascon told MindaNews in a text message that the five regional desks, two of them in Mindanao, opened last Monday, September 1.

Responding to complaints over how disorderly the processing was in Davao City, and other areas where remote intake operations were undertaken, the HRVCB Board on August 7 approved the setting up of an initial five regional desks – in Davao, Cotabato, Iloilo, Tacloban and Legaspi. The regional desks were expected to be operational by August 18.

But Gascon said they had to “hire and train so they opened on Monday (Sept. 1) this week.”

In Davao City, claimants can proceed to the CHR regional office in Trinity II Bldg., Quimpo Blvd. and in Cotabato City, at the CHR regional office in 2F Fatan Bldg. Pendatun Ave on office days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Field visits or remote intake operations to accept applications will continue as scheduled, Gascon said.

The schedule for remote intake operations nationwide has been posted in the HRVCB website.

In Mindanao, the schedule is: Pagadian City on September 10 to 12 at the 3rd floor of C3 or City Commerical Center; General Santos City on September 13 to 26; Malaybalay, Bukidnon on October 15 to 17; and October 21 to 23 in Tagum City.

The venue for General Santos, Malaybalay and Tagum cities has yet to be announced.

12,000 applicants and counting

Gascon said the Board received some 12,000 applications for claims from May to August.

Under RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, victims of human rights violations under Marcos’ martial rule must file their claims within a six-month period, from May 12 to November 10, 2014 as failure to file within this period will be considered a waiver.
Gascon said a petition has been filed in Congress to extend the period.

The HRVCB ended its four-day intake operations in Davao City on August 7 with a total of 1,535 applications for recognition and reparations accepted.

Venue of the first two days was the Davao City Recreation Center, more popularly known by its old name, Almendras Gym, while the venue of the last two days was the Bankerohan Gym.

Complaints over how disorderly the process was were common. “Walang sistema” (There is no system), the claimants said. Several of them added it felt like going through yet “another torture.”

“This is the worst,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez of the human rights Karapatan who had earlier witnessed the remote intake operations in Iloilo and Legaspi cities. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)