Marcos Compensation Bill – Where is Justice?
7 June 2006 12:00 am
While the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)–FORUM-ASIA member in the Philippines–lauds the effort of the Philippine Congress for passing the Marcos Compensation Bill as a partial victory for the cause of justice and human rights, it also registers its reservations regarding the manner that compensation is viewed by both the Government and the public. For the victims, the issue of compensation goes beyond monetary payment. At the core of the issue of compensation is the issue of justice and healing the wounds of the past.Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has welcomed the passing of the Marcos Compensation Bill at the House of Representatives. This legislation has long been awaited by the victims of human rights violations during martial law, and passing it into law will be a partial victory for the cause of justice and human rights.
But while TFDP lauds the effort of Congress to pass the bill we can not help but register our reservations regarding the manner that compensation is viewed by both the Government and the public. For the victims, the issue of compensation goes beyond monetary payment. At the core of the issue of compensation is the issue of justice and healing the wounds of the past.
Justice does not only mean paying damages to the victims. No amount of money could bring back the lives that were killed and destroyed by the brutal dictatorship of Marcos. True justice, hence genuine compensation, can only happen if the perpetrators of the atrocities committed during martial law are finally brought to the courts to face their crimes.
In Latin America and South Africa before compensating the victims, the government formed truth commissions. These commissions investigated the culpability of certain individuals and gave them a chance to announce public apologies to the victims. Here in the Philippines, the individuals, who were identified with the Marcos regime; some of whom have in fact carried out its dirty work, continue to hold power and have yet to owe up to their role in perpetrating martial law.
In fact one of them, a member of the dreaded Military Intelligence and Security Group (MISG) is now a Senator who ran for President during the last elections.
Healing the wounds wrought by martial law would be incomplete as long as the perpetrators of martial law continue with their lives as if they were not responsible for the violations committed under Marcos.
And while we continue to ignore their guilt the culture of impunity will continue to permeate every aspect of our society. Proof of this is that under the supposedly democratic regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, political imprisonment, repression of legitimate dissent, and
harassment of the media; all of which were practices of the dictatorship still continue to exist.
In the final analysis, compensating the victims monetarily would eventually be nothing more but a form to pacify the demand for justice and national healing so as to avoid revealing the skeletons in the closet left by Marcos and martial law.