From the declaration of Martial Law in 1972 until his ouster during the People Power Revolution, the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos has been well-documented with cases of human rights violations perpetrated across various sectors of Philippine Society. Such incidents were painstakingly documented by Human Rights Groups such as Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and Amnesty International, as well as Organized Legal Groups such as the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood Integrity and Nationalism (MABINI), and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and Religious Organizations like the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). These were further affirmed in 1995 when the United States District Court in Hawaii concluded that Marcos was personally responsible for human rights abuses perpetrated by state forces from 1972-1986.
Soon after, in 1997, the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland determined that a majority of Marcos Foundation Assets in Swiss Banks were also of criminal origin. This was realized with the efforts of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) – which was established to recover the ill-gotten wealth accumulated by Ferdinand Marcos, his family and close associates. The Swiss Government permitted the return of these assets to the Philippine Government on two conditions:
1. The confiscation or repayment of the assets in question should be handled through judicial proceedings complying with principles of the International Civil and Political Rights Pact.
2. The Phillippine government should regularly brief Swiss authorities on the same proceedings, as well as on precautions and procedures pertaining to compensations for victims of violations of human rights under the Marcos regime. The Phillippine government should regularly brief Swiss authorities on the same proceedings, as well as on precautions and procedures pertaining to compensations for victims of violations of human rights under the Marcos regime.
The verdict of the Swiss Federal Court was verified by the Supreme Court of the Philippines in 2003, which affirmed the conditions proposed thereto and enabled the transfer of the questioned assets to the Philippine National bank.
As further legal actions commenced to enforce this ruling, legislators in congress sought to organize a mechanism by which victims of state-perpetrated abuses during the 1972-1986 period could be both recognized and given reparations for the damages they had suffered. Various bills calling for the compensation of victims and memorialization of the period were initiated shortly after the Philippine Supreme Court’s ruling, sponsored by various congressmen as early as 2004. Finally, through House Bill No. 5990 and Senate Bill No. 3334, the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act was consolidated and enacted into law on February 25, 2013 on the 27th Anniversary of the People Power Revolution.
CREATION OF TWO GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Under Republic Act No. 10368, the Philippine Government recognizes that there were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos between September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986. The same law also provides for monetary and non-monetary reparations for identified victims, sourced from 10,000,000.00 Dollars which form part of the funds transferred by the Federal Court of Switzerland to the Republic of the Philippines and adjudged by the Supreme Court as Marcos ill-gotten wealth.
Two government agencies to fulfill its mandate:
The HRVCB was an independent quasi-judicial body which received, evaluated, processed and investigated claims of Human Rights Violations under the Marcos Administration from 1972-1986. It was composed of members who bore a deep and thorough understanding and knowledge of human rights, involvement in efforts against HRVs committed during the period, and of highly experienced legal practice – including members of the Philippine Bar engaged in the practice of law for more than ten (10) years.
The HRVCB was mandated by law to conduct its objectives 2014 to 2018 – its operations having been extended through R.A. 10766 – before being declared functus officio. In total, the Board strictly examined 75,749 applications filed by any and all persons who claimed that their rights had been violated during the period. Each application and their attached documents were adjudicated by lawyers and legal assistants distributed across three divisions. Facts were also cross-referenced by the Board’s researchers with documents from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, Amnesty International, and various other reports and databases. It was through this strenuous process that 11,103 were recognized as HRVVs.
The HRVVMC was created by R.A. 10368 to establish, restore, preserve and conserve Memorial, Museum, Library and Compendium in honor of the many HRVVs during the Marcos regime. It is also mandated to coordinate and collaborate with the Department of Education (DepED) and the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to ensure that the teaching of Martial Law atrocities, the lives and sacrifices of HRVVs in our history are included in the basic, secondary and tertiary education curricula.
Its powers and functions are assumed by a Board of Trustees composed of the following:
Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as Chairperson;
Chairperson of the National Historical Commission (NHCP) as Co-Chair;
Chairperson of the Commission Commission on Higher Education (CHED);
Chairperson of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA);
Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd); and
Head of the University of the Philippines Diliman Main Library.