Selda Lauds UNHRC for Urging Philippines to Pay Rights Victims

Apr. 21, 2007

MANILA — The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya or SELDA, an organization of Human Rights Violations Victims during Martial Law lauds the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its April 3 statement calling on the Philippine government to pay compensation to the 9,539 victims of martial law.

“We are delighted by the UNHRC statement.” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Secretary General of Selda, “It is hightime that the Philippine government act seriously on this and show that they genuinely adhere to the international human rights instruments to which they are a signatory of.”

The statement was based on the 1995 decision of the US District Court of Hawaii against the estate of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

SELDA laments the fact that Martial Law human rights violations victims have not been indemnified nor given justice for more than 20 years now and that some of them might no longer be around to see that day. Just this month, two former martial law activists and human rights victims of that dark era (one of whom was Ben Galario), died due to old age and illness.

“We hope that with this UNHRC order, the Philippine Government will stop impeding efforts to have the claimants indemnified.” Enriquez stated, at the same time criticizing the continued claims of the Arroyo Government over the US$35 million Arelma Account that has been ordered by the US Court distributed to the martial law victims.

SELDA, likewise assailed the fact that Congress failed to enact into law the bill awarding victims of martial law in the past nine years now.

Moreover, in the midst of the rising number of victims of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearance, the human rights group stated that the long wait and suffering the Filipinos experienced before they could be indemnified and given justice should not be repeated by the current government to the present families of victims of political repression.

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