ON THE 40th year of the imposition of martial law, victims of human rights violations under the Marcos dictatorship pressed on their fight for justice and indemnification as they rallied once more at the foot of the historic Mendiola Bridge.
“We fought for justice under the dictatorship yet, 40 years later we are still victims of injustice,” Bonifacio Ilagan, Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA said. “Many of our colleagues sacrificed their lives in the hope that one day they will see their countrymen free from want and fear.”
Ilagan pointed out that, “many of our colleagues were killed, disappeared, tortured and jailed, but after filing and winning the landmark human rights violations case vs. Ferdinand Marcos in Hawaii, those who were responsible for these atrocities have not been punished. Worse, they are back in power.”
Martial law activists have pushed for the passage for the indemnification bill since 1998.They lambasted President Aquino for “sitting on the Marcos Victims Compensation Bill.”
The human rights group expected more from the current administration, saying that “Noynoy, the son of a martial law victim should deliver justice to the victims and hold the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable for the crimes committed against thousands of Filipinos. But, the Marcos’ Victims Compensation Bill is again in for a tough ride.”
Senator Chiz Escudero has, on many occasion, said that the report by Committee on Justice and Human is ready for the plenary debates. “We have received the same reply for the longest time. Is the government serious about this? Or are the senators intimidated by the presence of a Marcos in the Senate,” Ilagan asked.
The group is also apprehensive with some of the provisions in the bill that they believe do not reflect the interests of the ML victims. Thus, it reiterated its earlier position, among others, the recognition of all 9,539 victims and class suit plaintiffs who won the case against Marcos both in the US and in the Swiss courts.
The members believed that the passage of the indemnification bill into a law is a step towards justice, “not so much for the compensation but more importantly, the recognition that injustice was committed to thousands of people during martial law. This should serve both as a reminder and a warning to all the administrations that people will not take injustice blindly. As proven in our recent past, there are many other avenues to pursue justice,” said Ilagan.
“We have no material wealth to pass on to our children and families. But so long as oppression and exploitation remain, this undying fervor to struggle for what is right and just will be our legacy to them and to the Filipino youth,” they said.