The thirst for justice of victims of the Marcos dictatorship remains unquenched*
Editorial, Ang Bayan
7 March 2011
The compensation given to 7,526 victims of the Marcos fascist dictatorship comes too little, too late.
On March 1, they began receiving $7.5 million, equivalent to a little more than P40,000 for each person. Although they accepted the small amount as damages, there is little cause for celebration.
Their thirst for true justice has not been quenched.
For one, they are not too happy about having been represented by lawyer Robert Swift. More than 2,000 victims from the original list of 9,539 plaintiffs who filed suit with a US court in 1988 were removed from the roster based on requisities determined by Swift. Many of them traveled to Manila, only to find out that their names were absent from the list.
Most of the victims of the fascist dictatorship are aging. Many have died. Twenty-five years have passed since the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship. The Hawaii Federal District Court where the suit was filed found the Marcos regime guilty as far back as 1992 of grave human rights violations. A great injustice has been committed through the much delayed implementation of the court-mandated compensation to the victims.
In contrast, the Marcoses and their cronies have been politically resurrected and are now enjoying a new heyday in power. The total amount of $7.5 million that was divided among thousands of Marcos victims is a pittance compared to the atrocities they suffered. More than this, it is ridiculously light punishment for a fascist dictator who amassed enormous wealth and thoroughly abused his power. It does not even represent 1% of the $1.97 billion settlement granted by the US court. For the Marcoses and their min ions, these are but crumbs from the banquet table thrown at the victims to silence their unceasing cries for justice.
The victims of the Marcos fascist dictatorship have not relented in their quest for justice. Most of them are workers, peasants, students, women, church people and other ordinary folk who stood up against the fascist regime and struggled for social justice and national liberation. They are the main victims of extrajudicial killings, involuntary disappearance, torture, illegal arrest and detention and other heinous human rights abuses.
The reactionary regimes have shown no compassion for the victims of the Marcos dictatorship in the past 25 years.
Instead of recognizing the victims' right to be justly compensated, these regimes staked their own claim on the Marcoses' ill-gotten riches in order to use them for their personal gain and to shore up their bankrupt rule. They blocked bills filed before Congress to implement the US court decision.
Not only did one reactionary regime after another block the grant of damages to the victims. None of them undertook any decisive moves to punish the dictator, his wife, children and cronies who colluded with them in plundering and suppressing the people.
For 25 years, justice was systematically undermined while the dictator's family was allowed to return to power. Their loyal henchmen who enforced martial rule now occupy seats of power in the reactionary state. While expressing support for the grant of compensation to the victims of the Marcos dictatorship, the Aquino regime's lawyers have actually filed motions to block them from receiving any more damages. Like its predecessors, the Aquino government continues to object to efforts by the victims and their lawyers to acquire their rightful share of the late dictator's wealth.
The Aquino regime has likewise not done anything to punish the Marcoses and their cronies for plunder and other grave violations of human rights. It is a huge irony that under the Aquino regime, there is now talk of reconciling with the Marcoses and allowing the late dictator's remains to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The country's history these past two and a half decades shows that true justice can never be attained by the people under a reactionary state.
Not one of the post-Marcos regimes was able to punish the big plunderers and fascists who oppressed and exploited the people. Marcos, Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo and many others have never been punished.
Despite Benigno Aquino III's lofty words about fighting corruption, he has not lifted a finger to punish the thieves of Gloria Arroyo's past regime. Neither has he taken any steps to show that he is different from the past regimes in terms of stealing, brutality and abuse of power.
The people cannot expect the elements of the ruling class to punish their fellow oppressors, plunderers and exploiters.
The attainment of true justice lies in the people's hands and in their militant and revolutionary struggle.