To compensate victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime,
Migrante Sydney Neighbourhood, a Filipino non-profit organisation in the
country, is set to launch Project Sanctuary on Saturday, October 19, 11:00 am
– 12:30 pm, at the ground floor, Search Foundation, 128 Chalmers St. Surry
Ferdinand Marcos ruled the Philippines as President from 1966 to 1986,
fourteen years of which was under martial law. Martial law was paper lifted in
1981. According to one human rights group, nearly 100,000 were arrested,
tortured, imprisoned or extrajudicially killed during martial law years 1972-
Project Sanctuary will ensure that Filipino migrants in Australia are guided
and well informed on their allotted compensation from the P10B pesos (A$24
million) offered by the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act
of 2013, which has been enacted for a year now and signed on February 25
this year by Aquino III.
The group is asking President Benigno Aquino III to immediately constitute
the Board which will manage the claims. Pres. Aquino III’s father, Senator
Benigno Aquino Jr., himself was slain in November 1983 at the then Manila
International Airport as he was returning from exile in the US. The family
strongly points culpability on the then Marcos government.
According to Migrante Sydney Neighbourhood spokesperson Maria Elena
Ang, herself a victim of torture during the Martial Law in the Philippines, the
group will offer legal and para-legal and other benefits as psychological and
social assistance. “It is our fervent desire to help these martial law victims.
Most of them are already suffering from old age and debility from their martial
law suffering. Their health conditions were worsened by the emotional and
physical cruelty they experienced. It is best that we help them get their claims
not so much for the monetary benefit, as a recognition that crimes against
humanity and gross human rights violations of a dictatorship anywhere will not
go unpunished and forgotten,” she said.
A similar class action suit on behalf of about 10,000 martial law victims has
been pursued since 1986 and lodged in the Hawaii District Court where
Marcos was in exile then. A US lawyers’ group invoked a 1789 US tort and
eventually was awarded US$2.9 billion. The group 27 years after is still trying
to uncover the hidden Marcos estate.
Migrante Sydney Neighbourhood will assist qualified victims in making
applications for compensation aligned with the procedures set by the as-yetto-
be-formed Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board in the Philippines.