Martial law victims cautioned vs fake claims

Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2018 03:49 PM

Victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime stage a picket in front of the Martial Law Victims Claims board, January 18, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— Martial law victims on Thursday were warned against dealing with alleged syndicates approaching them for money in exchange for the promise of reviving their claims for compensation, which were previously denied by the government. 

Processing of claims ended last May 12 when the mandate of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board to distribute P10 billion in the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ secret Swiss bank deposits expired. 

It approved a total of 11,103 applications and rejected 64,627 for failing to meet specific requirements set under the law.

Claimants 1081, a group of martial law victims, has received reports of people organizing denied claimants in the provinces to supposedly process their applications again for a fee of as much as P10,000, said its executive director Zenaida Mique.

Mique also cited Facebook posts from a certain “Human Rights Victims Claims Association” allegedly offering to appeal rejected claims.

“Ang ayaw namin ay 'yung nabibiktima pang muli 'yung mga denied claimants,” she said in a press conference at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

(We don't want those who were denied claims to fall victim to this scheme.)

SYNDICATES

Human rights commissioner Karen Dumpit cautioned martial law victims against joining organizations offering help even if the application process had long been completed.

“Kasi po may mga sindikato po talaga na nagmamatyag at tinitingnan kung ano ang puwede nilang magawa para makakuha sila ng kita sa mga tao na papayag na sumali sa kanila o siguro 'yung mauuto nila,” she said.

(There's a syndicate on the lookout, trying to do what they can to make money from the people who would agree to join them.)

Dumpit said the CHR could gather complaints and refer them to law enforcement agencies.

Claims board chairperson Lina Sarmiento said no new applications could be processed by any entity unless authorized by a new law.

The previous distribution was made possible by the landmark 2013 law that recognized “the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations” under Marcos. 

The Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act also sought to “restore the victims’ honor and dignity” through indemnification and non-monetary reparation.

 UNCLAIMED CHECKS

Sarmiento said she had received reports of people promising rejected claimants they could still seek reparation because of a pending joint congressional resolution.

But the proposed resolution merely seeks to ensure that funds would remain available until the distribution is completed.

“There’s a lot of disinformation about this joint resolution,” Mique said.

“Ito 'yung pinapakalat ng mga scammers dun sa iba’t ibang lugar, na mayroon pang pending money that will be available for the denied claimants at ito raw ay nakasampa sa Kongreso.”

(Scammers are spreading false information in different places that there is still money that will be available for the claimants who have been denied, and that this is pending before Congress.)

A total of 177 checks worth P134 million remained unclaimed, while 158 others amounting to P110 million were issued to deceased payees, said Sarmiento.

“Wala na po. Sarado na po ang board (There's no more. The board is closed),” she told reporters. “And there are no members of the former (claims board) who are authorized to go around and accept appeals and whatever possibility of reversing the decision of the (board).”

Sarmiento, whose 9-member board spent 4 years receiving and adjudicating applications, said the unclaimed checks expired last Aug. 10.