Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Recognizing, Recording, Reporting, Repairing, and Righting a Wrong

RA 10368 is known as the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act 2013. This is the law that gives the victims of Marcos’ dictatorial regime recognition and compensation for damages that they suffered.

The IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) of RA 10368 allows victims until November 10, 2014 to file their claims. In a sponsorship speech of Senator Pimentel, he said, "The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) has encountered an unprecedented number of claims from human rights victims. Due to the sheer number of the applications, compounded by the board's undermanned staff, the Board may not be able to accomplish its duties within the period prescribed by law,"

There are 29,000 victims who have filed so far. HRVCB expects to process between 55,000 to 90,000 more applications. Hence – the joint resolution passed by both the Senate and House extending the deadline for filing to May 15, 2015. 

I understand that PNoy has not signed, vetoed or in any way acted upon the joint resolution. If that’s the case within 30 days, the resolution automatically becomes a law. “Since PNoy and some of his relatives themselves are victims and have not filed, signing it could pose a conflict of interest”, my barber says. So, he may just allow it to lapse into law.

Take it from my barber! J

Among others, I am also one of those qualified victims who have not filed. I was initially ignoring it because I thought that it was like adding insult to an irreparable injury. Then, I reflected on it for quite a while and drew the following conclusion – everybody who qualifies to file should do it.

Reason? Recognizing, Recording, Reporting, Repairing, and Righting a Wrong! Rearing the children of tomorrow and “Raising Up the Next Generation” require ‘Riting about the atrocities under dictatorship; Reading about them; and doing the ‘Rithmetic not just on the number of victims but also the amount of compensation they deserve as well as the amount of money that Marcos and his cronies plundered.

The claims would show official recognition that Marcos’ martial law really violated the human rights of tens of thousands of Filipinos. Described in specific details in their affidavits, the victims’ claims are recorded not just judicially but also for history and for posterity. Their stories would be written in history books and read in schools and libraries both online and offline.

Reports would be written and published about the atrocities and sad stories befalling the victims, and the world would know in ugly details what happened to many Filipinos in the darkest hours of martial law under Marcos.

Reparation is the government’s way of compensating and easing the pain endured by victims and their families. It is a way of quantifying in monetary terms the damages and injuries for which compensatory justice should be made.

Most importantly, it is about RIGHTING a WRONG. Every human being is born with inherent and inalienable rights. Every Filipino under any regime should enjoy among others the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Marcos and his regime deprived many Filipinos of these inherent rights. It was WRONG then, it is WRONG now, and it will be WRONG tomorrow!

Escaping from the Marcos dictatorship, I was disguised as a Muslim barter trader named Abdul Julkanain and traveled with my wife, Tina Manglapus Maynigo, and then 2-year old daughter Tanya Maynigo, via kumpit or pump boat. From the southernmost small island of Sitangkay, we braved the rain and the chasing pirates in the high seas who were driven back by our Muslim soldier escorts possessing sub-machine guns. We eventually reached Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia riding without a compass relying on the natural skills of a Badjao (Filipino seaman) who was looking at the stars and the sun for directional navigation.

Taken care of initially by the Tawau Catholic Church, then by the Malaysian Government, and later on by the Malaysian Red Crescent, we lived in Sabah for more than 4 months until paroled into the United States under the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees. We were subsequently granted political asylum.

I was an active part of the Student Revolution in the ‘70s.  The Press at that time distinguished the student activists as Radicals or Extremists and the Moderates. Lumped as leaders of the Moderate wings was Ed Jopson who was president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), Chito Sto. Romana, a student leader of De la Salle University, and me, who was Secretary-General of the YCSP, youth arm of Manglapus’ Christian Social Movement. We called the young followers of Marcos “provocateurs”.

When martial law was declared, Ed Jopson decided to join the rebels and escaped to the mountains to fight the Marcos regime. Chito Sto. Romana, went to China. I stayed behind to become a lawyer helping the underground until my escape.

Shown at the Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani, are pictures and articles about the three of us during the Student Revolution or the First Quarter Storm. The Special Branch of the Malaysian Home Ministry also showed some of the pictures during my debriefing in Tawau when we escaped.

Many of the details relating to our escape came out in WikiLeaks. I will most likely publish them in the near future. The Nixon-Ford-Kissinger regime was sympathetic to the Marcos dictatorship. This explains its rejection to our application for political asylum. We had to wait for Carter to become President. His human rights policies got us to eventually come to the United States.

Many of the student radicals went to the mountains as soon as the soldiers were rounding up activists to detain them. The soldiers were detaining all activists - not distinguishing who were radicals and who were moderates. Since the radicals went to the hills, the moderates stayed behind. Naturally, many of the latter that actually belonged to our movement were detained for a certain period of time.

So, I am encouraging all who feel aggrieved during martial law, especially those who belonged to our movement to file their claims.  Just by doing it would make you part of history. 

May 15, 2015 is the deadline. Feel free to contact me for more info and assistance:

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