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Aquino inks bill to pay victims of Marcos era

AFP-JIJI

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III signed a landmark law Monday compensating human rights victims of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, 27 years after a bloodless “People Power” revolution ended his reign.

Ten billion pesos ($244 million) will be distributed to potentially thousands of people who were tortured, raped or detained by Marcos’ security forces during his 20-year rule. Relatives of those killed by the strongman’s forces will also be eligible.

Speaking at a ceremony in Manila to mark the anniversary, Aquino said the law was part of his government’s efforts to “right the wrongs of the past.”

“We may not bring back the time stolen from martial law victims, but we can assure them of the state’s recognition of their sufferings that will help bring them closer to the healing of their wounds,” Aquino said.

Loretta Ann Rosales, an anti-Marcos activist who was tortured by his security forces and now heads the country’s independent rights commission, said the law would finally allow all his victims to feel a sense of justice.

“The law is essential in rectifying the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship and obliges the state to give compensation to all those who suffered gross violations of their rights,” Rosales said.

Marie Hilao-Enriquez, the chairwoman of Selda, a group that represents Marcos victims, also welcomed the symbolic intent behind the law but said the money was too little to have a meaningful impact.

“There are so many victims that when you divide it to everyone, it will not result to much,” Hilao-Enriquez said.