Days before 40th anniversary of Martial Law, CHR leads campaign for passage of Compensation bill
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MANILA, Philippines -- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), together with partner stakeholders from Congress and civil society organizations with help from the media, has embarked on a campaign for the early passage of Senate Bill No. 2615, or the Human Rights Victims Compensation Act of 2010. 

CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales has set the tone on the significance of granting compensation to the victims of warrantless arrests, torture, salvaging and other forms of human rights violations during the martial law regime of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

”There should be justice for the victims in the form of compensation. We recognize their sufferings and to at least appease their sorrows, we have to grant them some amount that comes from the ill-gotten wealth of Marcos,” Rosales said during a press briefing on the "countdown activities" remembering Martial Law at 40 held at the CHR office in Diliman, Quezon City on Tuesday.

Civil society organizations -- Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Claimants 1081, Task Force Detainee of the Philippines -- join the CHR in embarking on a campaign that aims to educate the public on the historical significance of the passage of the bill in terms of providing a measure of justice to the victims of Martial Law. 

Among the activities lined up going to the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Martial Law on Sept. 21 are:

* Meeting with Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman, Senate Committee on Human Rights, held last Aug. 30;

* Writing of letters to the Senate HR Committee, President Benigno S. Aquino III for urgent certification of the bill from Sept. 2-7, and to Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office to include the concern for a possible speech of the President on Sept. 21;

* Social media write-up by the youth and other supporters to speed up passage of the bill;

* On Sept. 9–15, teams led by CHR and the Claimants 1081 group will lobby on the senators while other civil society groups will picket outside the Senate building;

* CHR and advocates will monitor actions of the Senate and the Office of the President on the letters, while the youth will continue using the social media for the same motive on Sept. 16-20.

On Sept. 21, a historical marker in Mendiola near Malacanang will be unveiled by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines headed by Prof. Ferdinand Llanes.

In Cebu, a similar marker will be unveiled at Plaza Independencia under the initiative of Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon.

Meanwhile, in making the declassified Martial Law files available to the public for their specific interests and needs, the Department of National Defense has transferred the same to the custody of a civilian agency which is the CHR led by Rosales.

The general objective of the transfer of the files is to create an opportunity to contribute to, and hurdle the painstaking process of national reconciliation and healing in a long journey to end impunity and make human rights a way of life.

A symbolic transfer of the documents took place on Sept. 21, 2011, where both parties with witnesses signed a common position to “end impunity and build a culture of human rights.”

What prompted immediate action to process the transfer was a continuing rumor that the documents were being lost, sold, shredded or burned and that it was urgent to retrieve them from such irresponsible acts.