Martial law victims receive first half of monetary compensation

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 9) — Danilo dela Fuente was arrested in February 25, 1982. He was released exactly four years after, when former strongman Ferdinand Marcos fled to Hawaii after the people revolted against his rule.

But in the four years dela Fuente spent in prison, he learned words and phrases he would vividly remember three decades after: solar plexus - the sensitive part of the abdomen vulnerable to blows was where he was punched several times; tea party, when he was "treated like a football," kicked repetitively by 10 people, and the Russian roulette, where a bullet was loaded into a gun, placed into his temple before it was pulled thrice - a game of chance.

When he was also electrocuted, he thought it was his time.

"Yung number 6 sa batok na yun, malapit na sa utak. Buti naman hininto na. Sabi ko, aba mukhang hindi pa ako papatayin, naniwala nga ako sa swerte," dela Fuente said.

[Translation: Number 6 (in electrocution) reached up to the back of my neck. It's already near the brain. Fortunately they stopped. I thought, maybe they won't kill me yet. I believed in luck.]

Thirty years later, he would receive P100,000 - the first half of the payment for the atrocities he experienced.

Dela Fuente, now 63, was one of the 300 martial law victims who claimed the first half of their monetary reparation from the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB), four years after the bill granting it was passed.

HRVCB chairperson Lina Sarmiento said the reparation is a recognition of the atrocities committed during the Marcos rule..

"While it may not be enough to ease the pain, this is a symbol or a token of the government's recognition of what they went through," Sarmiento said.

Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, grants monetary and nonmonetary reparation to human rights victims, with the amount "in proportion to the gravity of the human rights violation committed."

This is determined by a point-system, as identified by Section 19 of RA 10368.

  1. Victims who died or who disappeared and are still missing shall be given ten (10) points;
  2. Victims who were tortured and/or raped or sexually abused shall he given six (6) to nine (9) points:
  3. Victims who were detained shall be given three (3) to five (5) points; and
  4. Victims whose rights were violated under Section 3, paragraph (b), nos. (4), (5) and (6) under this Act shall be given one (1) to two (2) points.

The government has allotted P10 billion for the reparation of the victims, which came from the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family transferred to the Philippine government by the Swiss Federal Court.

Dela Fuente, a torture victim, got eight points.

"Nararamdaman ko na …  yung kahit kaunting bahagi nung katarungan at hustisya na hinahabol namin. Maliit na bahagi lang ito, na naibibigay na unti unti," Dela Fuente said.

[Translation: It's a modest share of the justice we are fighting for. They're giving it little by little.]

The martial law victim said he will use the money to support his child's college education and buy the maintenance medicine for his generalized seizures - an injury he got from the tortures inflicted on him.

Dela Fuente said more than the monetary benefits, there is something else they need.

"Ang malaking bahagi na gusto naming maattain, yung recognition, kasi sa recognition, meron din …  non-monetary benefits. Pwede kaming magpacheck up nang libre sa anumang government agencies," he said.

[Translation: More than the monetary benefits, we want to be recognized so we can clain the non-monetary benefits, like free check ups.]

According to the law, the Departments of Health, Social Welfare and Development, and Education, Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority shall "render the necessary services" as non-monetary reparation.

But the monetary reparation did not come in a silver platter. Dela Fuente said they talked to President Rodrigo Duterte about the compensation, and a group of martial law victims also picketed in front of various government offices.

"Sa tingin namin malaking tagumpay sa pamamagitan ng aming sama-samang pagkilos, at yung paggigiit," dela Fuente said.

[Translation: I think our collective action, as well as persistence, helped us achieve this.]

Dela Fuente also hopes the Board would release the list of another set of claimants, as it took three years to process the first list, composed of 4,000 claimants.

READ: Gov't releases list of 4,000 Martial Law victims eligible for damages

The HRVCB has only decided on some 40,000 of 75,537, or slightly more than half, of claims from victims of martial law abuses.

Former President Benigno Aquino III created the Board  in 2013, which  has until May 12, 2018 to complete its mandate.

READ: 4,000 Martial Law victims — about 5% of claimants — getting partial compensation in 2017

Former Bayan Muna Representative and claimant Satur Ocampo hopes the HRVCB will complete its mandate.

"Isang taon nalang ang natitirang life ng (HRVCB), meron naman silang commitment na tatapusin nila yun, sana nga ay magawa," Ocampo said.

[Translation: The Human Rights Compensation Board only have a year left. They made a commitment to finish reviewing the claims.]

CNN Philippines' correspondent AC Nicholls and digital producer Yvette Morales contributed to this report.