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A first batch of 12 human rights victims during martial law were handed checks worth $1,000 each in an emotionally charged ceremony in Manila.  (AFP photo)

 

MANILA — Victims of human rights violation during the Martial Law years were one in saying that the return to public office of the Marcoses, more than two decades after the late dictator was toppled from power in the EDSA People Power uprising, was a slap on their faces and the countless other victims who endured suffering during that period.

Retired Air Force Col. Nilo Olegario Sr. said although he is leaving it to the public to judge the Marcoses, still he could not believe that they were now back in the saddle 25 years after the 1986 people power uprising.

“I feel bad that they have returned to power considering what they have done to us and the countless victims of human rights violation during that period but what can I do, this is a free country,” Olegario said at the initial distribution of compensation to 12 victims of Martial Law at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

Olegario accepted the initial $1,000 compensation in behalf of his son, Nilo Jr., who disappeared before Christmas of 1985.

Universal agreement

Human rights lawyers Robert Swift, Rod Domingo and Rene Saguisag urged President Benigno Aquino III and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to negotiate a final and universal agreement for the human rights victims.

Olegario claimed the P43,000 compensation for his son, a member of the August 21 Movement (ATOM) who disappeared in 1985.

Olegario, the third child of five siblings, was then 27 years old.

Another claimant, Fe Mangahas, was teary-eyed as she recounted the torture she endured at the hands of security forces.

Torture

A professor at the Far Eastern University (FEU) at the time, Mangahas said she suffered a miscarriage of her first baby as a result of torture inflicted on her during her detention.

Tinatanggap ko ito hindi lamang para sa akin kundi para rin sa lahat ng mga guro at estudyante na nagbuwis ng buhay noong panahon ng Martial Law,” she said.

Veteran film director Joel Lamangan said the Marcoses should be prosecuted for their crimes.

“This is a victory but the fight has to go on. Yes, I want the Marcoses to be prosecuted but the problem is the justice system here in the country is defective,” Lamangan said.

He said he was 17 years old and a student activist when he was detained, adding that he suffered all forms of torture during his nearly two years in detention.

According to Swift, the litigation to collect the 1995 judgment of $2.5 billion continues.

The full distribution of the checks started last Tuesday with more than 700 expecting to process their claims at the main office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Quezon City.

The distribution will last only until March 7.

No involvement

Sen. Marcos said the Marcos family has never been involved in the litigation on compensation for victims of human rights.

Marcos said the compensation issue involves only the claimants and the government and that his family is no longer represented in these cases.