Bongbong is lying, human rights victims say

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. File Photo

MANILA - Victims of human rights violations during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos have accused Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. of lying when he said that his family is not blocking the assistance to human rights victims.

During the vice-presidential debate on April 10, the younger Marcos denied that he failed to recognize human rights victims during martial law, and insisted that it is the Aquino administration which is preventing the distribution of compensation to the claimants.

"The Marcos family is not the reason why human rights claimants have not received the compensation awarded to them. It is the government headed by the Liberal Party which our congresswoman is a member of. Hindi na po kami nag-aargue, hindi na po kami nagpapadala ng abogado," Marcos said during the debate.

"If this administration really wants to give the money, then I challenge them to give up their claim and just give the award to the claimants."

READ: Sins of the father dog Marcos Jr. in VP debate

On April 18, however, an "Opposition to Motion for Partial Summary Judgment" on their family's paintings was submitted by the Marcoses, through their lawyers, to the Sandiganbayan.

In the motion, the senator and her mother, Imelda, are opposing the pleading of the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) to declare 200 of their artworks as unlawfully acquired and be forfeited in favor of the Philippine government. The paintings are part of an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion allegedly ill-gotten wealth siphoned off government funds since the Marcos patriarch was elected in 1965.

Aside from PCGG, 9,539 victims of human rights violations are now asserting claims on 150 of the artworks, to fulfill $2 billion liability and exemplary awarded to them by a United States jury in 1992, and a $353.6 million compensatory damage judgment by the US District Court of Hawaii in 2011.

Human rights victim Zenaida Mique said the Marcoses never stopped opposing their claims.

"Big liar siya kasi sa lahat ng cases mula nang i-file ang case sa Federal Court ng Hawaii, maliban sa PCGG, sila yung isang hadlang bigyan ng compensation, ang human rights victims during martial law," Mique said.

But during a campaign sortie in Ginoog City Thursday, the senator admitted blocking forfeiture of 200 of their artworks, saying this is a different case from human rights claimants.

"Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa maayos ang status noon, hindi maliwanag ang status noon. Kasi ni-raid mga bahay namin, 'yung mga artwork na 'yan was not a subject of any court case basta kinuha na lang nila. Pinasok kami, walang order ng kahit anong court. Walang kasong pinagbabasehan ang kanilang pagkumpiska kaya naming nilalabanan," the younger Marcos said.

He clarified that it was on human rights claimants cases where they have stopped sending lawyers, but not on forfeiture cases.

"Ilang taon na kami hindi nagpapadala ng abogado doon sa kaso sa pagbabayad sa human rights claimants. It is a case between the government and the claimants," he said. "The Marcos family is not a party to that legal action. That's a different case (from the artwork issue.) Basta 'yung hawak ng gobyerno na assets an kine-claim ng human rights ayaw ibigay ng gobyerno. Wala kaming control doon."

READ: Bongbong admits blocking forfeiture of 200 missing artworks

But the claimants' lawyer, Atty. Rod Domingo Jr., said, it is the Marcoses, and not the government, who are resisting claims, specifically on the enforcement of $353 million compensatory judgment against the senator and her mother, opposed before the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC).

The money, as ruled by US District Court of Hawaii in 2011, was a penalty accompanying a contempt ruling for "contumacious conduct" for violating an injunction that barred them from dissipating assets of the Marcos estate.

The lawsuit Domingo filed before the Makati RTC also seeks the Marcoses' real estate, bank accounts, securities, jewelry and artwork.

Domingo added the Marcoses also opposed and won the case in a lower court on the enforcement of human rights victims' $2 billion claims appealed before the Makati RTC. The claimants have a pending pleading before the Court of Appeals to reverse the ruling.

"Pinabubuluanan ko ang sinabi ni Senador Bongbong Marcos na ang mga Marcos daw ay hindi tumututol na bigyan ang mga victims ng human rights violations. Hindi po totoo 'yan. 'Yung unang kaso pa lang na natalo sila na almost $2 billion, hanggang Korte Suprema ng US tumututol sila. Natalo sila at yun ang aming pinapatupad ngayon sa Pilipinas. Sa Pilipinas naman nag-file kami ng enforcement ng judgement sa ngayon. Tinutulan na naman nila at nanalo sila sa RTC sa Makati, hindi ko alam paano sila nanalo. So all the way tumututol sila," said Domingo.