By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate urged yesterday the House of Representatives and Senate to extend the validity and availability of the fund for the Marcos human rights violation victims with the Land Bank of the Philippines and authorise the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to administer the effective distribution of the funds to qualified victims, or their heirs until December 2019.
He filed House Joint Resolution 24 to amend Republic Act No. 10368 and Republic Act No. 10766, which created the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) and which extended the life of the Board, respectively.
RA 10368 allotted P10 billion for the reparation of the human rights victims and mandates the HRVCB to complete its work within two years. RA 10766 amended the sunset clause such that the HRVCB shall become functius officio by May 12, 2018.
In filing the resolution, Zarate noted that as of May 11, 2018, the HRVCB had been able to approve and duly recognize 11,103 legitimate claimants out of more than 75,000 applicants.
“However, the HRVCB was only able to completely resolve the 6,737 appeals on May 6, 2018, or six days before the law’s sunset. The checks issued by the HRVCB for the human rights victims have validity of only three months,” he said.
Some 3,600 out of the 11,103 approved claimants will be provided cash through the Automated Teller Machines of the Land Bank and the rest will be issued checks, he said.
Zarate noted that as of June 28, 2018, the HRVCB account with Land Bank of the Philippines reported a balance of P792.628 million, which shall be maintained until August 11, 2018, after which the balance will be reverted to the Bureau of Treasury.
“Although the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and HRVCB created a transition team to assist the claimants in the remaining months, many human rights victims are concerned that there might not be enough time to process issues or matters relating to the distribution of monetary claims until August 11, 2018,” he said.
He expressed concern over reports received by the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) that some relatives of the approved claimants were unable to encash the checks even with Special Powers of Attorneys,
“Without immediate intervention, many human rights victims will be denied monetary reparation intended for them. While no amount of monetary reparation will restore lost lives, properties, broken relations and dreams of the human rights victims and their families, the reparation is important for them, as it forms part of the overall recognition of the reality of human rights violations and their immeasurable suffering under the Marcos regime,” Zarate said.
“It is the sense of the House of Representatives and the Senate that said funds be effectively distributed to those found qualified by the HRVCB and that relevant government agencies and bodies notably the Commission on Audit, the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Bureau of Treasury should coordinate and cooperate to ensure that said effective distribution be speedily accomplished,” he said.