Atty. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, a member of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

Atty. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, a member of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

DAVAO CITY – A member of the government-created claims board for Martial Law human rights victims admits to having problems in the claims process but said they have plans to remedy the situation.

Atty. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, a member of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board said that they experienced the same problems during “intakes” in other areas.

Gascon was at the Bankerohan Gym where hundreds of claimants lined up to file their claims on the fourth day.

The original schedule is only three days for claimants living in Davao City and which started last August 4 in Almendras Gym and supposedly ended last August 6.

The board decided to extend it as many more claimants come from other provinces of Mindanao like Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley and Cotabato.

In news reports, claimants complain of a poor process in which they, even senior citizens are made to wait outside the Almendras Gym and outside the Bankerohan Gym where the venue was transferred last August 6.

See Story: Disorganized system enrages Martial Law claims victims

FOURTH DAY. Hundreds of human rights victims of the Martial Law regime lined up to file their claims on the fourth day of the “intake process” of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board in Davao City.

“Everywhere it’s the same, they don’t have a system,” said Marie Hilao Enriquez, national chairperson of the detainees group Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda).

Enriquez is present in Davao City and also went to Legaspi and Iloilo earlier to take complaints and to assist the claimants.

“In every area, it’s almost like this. Let’s say it’s a little difficult and we are trying our best to improve it,” said Gascon who also saw “long queues, long lines” in their trips to Baguio, Legazpi and other provinces in Luzon and in Cotabato, Butuan and Cagayan de Oro.

Gascon said they have “limited budget” which they only have “short days, three days or four days only, limited equipment, three computers and limited personnel.

Gascon said they will “announce in mid-August or September that we will have presence in regional (human rights office) daily” after their board meeting which have the same as part of the agenda.

Gascon said if the said proposal is approved, they have to hire staff.

Davao City Agriculturist Roselio Tabay, Jr, a human rights victim himself, said “the system is poor, inefficient.”

Tabay hinted that “some priority numbers are given to those close-at-heart. It has to be improved,” he said.

Tabay said he was arrested by Philippine Constabulary men on the eve of Valentine’s Day in 1983 in Barangay Matina and was filed with cases of “rebellion and subversion.”

Tabay said he was part of those who “had the ideology that the country’s system must be changed.”

He said he was already then a government worker employed in the Bureau of Agricultural Extension.

“I was only freed two years later, in May 1985 after I was acquitted,” he said.

Tabay said he was detained at Camp Vicente Leonor, or popularly known Camp Catitipan, and like others suffered torture.

Tabay said he “recalled all the horrors” when he began writing his account on the form given by board.

“Right after I walked free from prison our Baex director asked me to report and asked me why I was arrested. The color of the walls of his room is dirty white like a prison cell. I immediately felt suffocated, I ran out,” he said.

Asked if he regretted the activities that led to his arrest, Tabay said he only “regret getting caught”.

“We stood by our principles, I blamed myself for being lax in security,” he said. “I can also feel how (human rights victims at present) they feel.”  (John Rizle L. Saligumba/

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