UTRECHT - Top communist leader Jose Maria Sison has become an instant millionaire after receiving reparation from the government as a human rights victim during Martial Law.
Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said he and his wife, Julie De Lima, got P1.2 million each for their detention and torture under the rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
"The remittance has been made to the bank account of Julie. We are instant peso millionaires. She got P1.2 [million] and I got P1.2 [million]," the 79-year-old communist leader, who has been in exile in The Netherlands since 1987, told ABS-CBN's Christian Esguerra.
"Whatever is the amount, the important thing is that the Philippine government accepted that violations of human rights occurred," he added.
Reparation is guaranteed under a landmark law which recognized in 2013 "the heroism and sacrifices" of human rights victims under Ferdinand Marcos.
Only 14 percent of the total 75,749 claimants will receive reparation because the rest failed to prove that they were victims of gross human rights violations, Lina Sarmiento, head of the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board (HRVCB), earlier said.
The monetary reparation for martial law victims came from the P10 billion Swiss bank deposits recovered from the Marcoses. Interest from this amount will be used to put up a museum.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has recovered P170 billion or about $3.4 billion in ill-gotten wealth as well as jewelry, art, and other assets from the Marcos family.
The House of Representatives last week approved a bill seeking to abolish PCGG and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, transferring these agencies' functions and powers to the Office of the Solicitor General.
"I think that's a bad decision... If the function of PCGG is transferred to a pro-Marcos loyalist like [Solicitor General Jose] Calida, you have a problem there," said Sison.