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Statement on the Lahad Datu situation

Problems in enforcing Anti-Torture and Cybercrime Laws

The Express Publications, completing a Silver Jubilee of media service

Effectiveness of divine healing


Two sets of jewels

Reforms started by Robredo crucial for nation-building

Frequently Asked Questions on Executive Order 79 (Mining Reform)

Why is the Filipino special?

Chief Justice’s credibility crossroad




MPC Statement on the 45th Anniversary of the Jabidah Massacre

A Statement from the Mindanao Peoples Caucus (MPC) forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
March 18, 2013

On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the Jabidah massacre, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus calls upon the Bangsamoro people to unite and close ranks at this most critical stage of their political struggle as a distinct people with a proud history in Mindanao. More than ever, it is time to set aside ideological and political differences and move together in order to establish the Bangsamoro government as agreed in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB). This can only be achieved if the Bangsamoro leaders will set aside personal interests and move their people towards a common direction that will usher in the dawn of freedom and sustainable development.

After the brief euphoria on the (FAB), those who stand to lose in the transition period and in the incipient Bangsamoro government lost no time in preventing and derailing the transition period from setting in. It is difficult to comment on the bandwagon of the Sabah issue because their interlocutors in the media already have a template on how to spin the story. Much as we condemn the killings and the backlash against the Tausug diaspora in Sabah, it is hypocritical on the part of some leaders to be so vocal about the human rights violations in this much coveted resource-rich island and yet remain silent on the rampant human rights violations committed against their own people in Sulu. How many of these leaders have questioned the declaration of State of Emergency in Sulu?

How many of them have publicly denounced the private armies, warrantless arrests, warlordism, corruption, violence, gang rapes and ID system perpetrated in Sulu by their despotic leaders? Human rights violations are committed without let up against the Tausug under their very own corrupt and abusive politicians yet we hardly hear the same outrage calling for blood and call to arms from those who are now drumbeating the war against Malaysia. Many of the Tausug have managed to flee to Sabah to escape from the militarization, violence and massacres in Sulu only to be abused and violated again Sabah in a classic double whammy effect. As we condemn the human rights violations in Sabah, let us not forget to condemn the violations happening within the supposedly seat of the Sultanate in Sulu itself.

It is so sad to see some sections of the Moros again becoming willing victims of the classic divide and rule tactic designed precisely to prevent the birth of a Bangsamoro government and thus perpetuate the status quo of control and domination of imperial Manila. Without casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Sabah claim, what is highly suspect is the unholy alliance of strange bedfellows who have all trooped together to support the Kirams not for the sake of the Sabah claim itself but for their own selfish political interests. Foremost of which are the agenda of the local politicians in the Bangsamoro areas who are threatened with the FAB but could not seem to oppose it because they could not openly defy Malacanang. It is also suspect why so-called progressive groups who are fighting against feudalism and imperialism are supporting what is clearly a remnant of an undemocratic, feudal, master-slave structure that perpetuate undue privileges of a royal few at the expense of the masses within the Moro society.

Before we start the bandwagon of claiming Sabah, the Mindanao Peoples Caucus strongly reminds the Moro leaders to protect the gains of the political struggle and the peace process by rallying behind the establishment of a Bangsamoro government in Mindanao. Let us not lose sight of the strategic political opportunity that is being offered in the peace process. Let sobriety and patience build and secure the gains of the Moro martyrs who have offered their previous lives for the Moro struggle. We call on the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to fast-track the negotiation on the Annexes so that the Bangsamoro Transition Commission could already begin its important work. Let us not be swayed by venomous call for blood and war against a neighbouring country, Malaysia. Let us remain steadfast and consistent on the principles of dialogue and active non-violence in resolving conflict as we condemn human rights violations in Sulu, Sabah, Mindanao and anywhere in the world.

We extend our support to President Aquino in his unprecedented gesture of commitment and political will to put a final closure to the armed conflict by addressing the legitimate struggle of the Bangsamoro people for self-governance and self-rule within a recognized and delineated political territory. Let us not allow the MOA-AD debacle from happening again enroute to Sabah.

The Mindanao peace process has been a long, enduring marathon. We are already into the final homestretch of the finishing line. Let not the desperate move of the spoilers side-track us from moving towards the finishing line. The martyrs of the Jabidah massacre sacrificed their young lives and promising future by refusing to fight against fellow Muslims in neighbouring Sabah. In their youth and innocence, they defied the orders of their military superiors in Corregidor guided only by the basic tenet of unity of the Islamic Ummah which include their brothers and sisters in Sabah. Let us remember and honour their martyrdom by delivering genuine Merdeka for the Bangsamoro people in Mindanao.





Pope Francis

March 14, 2013

I, of course, was very happy to know we have a new Pope. When I woke up at 4 a.m. last Thursday, there were already 5 text messages on my mobile phone. And they all broke to me the good news. I prayed immediately.

A little later, I scrambled to know more about the new Pope. Like everyone else I was also surprised and gladdened to learn about him and his life. The Cardinal from Argentina, a Jesuit, cannot fail but command love and admiration for the way he is, for what he has done, for what he stands.

Even in his appearance, there is already a palpable air of humility, gentleness and compassion. His smile and over-all demeanor say it all. Besides, he takes the bus to go to work. He lives in a small apartment instead of the palace reserved for his office. He only has one lung. In short, he avoid perks.

Of course, as the day wore on, and more impressions and reactions came in, especially from opinion-makers, some dismay crept in. In hindsight, I should be prepared to know about these reactions. Different people can obviously express what they like. These views can only show from where these columnists are coming in.

I noted that many of them had to eat crow after badly failing in their predictions. Cardinal Bergoglio was not in many of their radars. Obviously, the Holy Spirit had something else in mind besides their brilliant reasonings. But not content with that, now they are putting a lot of political coloring in the election of the new Pope.

The usual branding poured in – liberal or conservative, pro-this or anti-that, etc. Several spins spun wildly. Will he bring the Church to a new direction, out from the ashes of the sex scandals afflicting many parts of the Church and the mismanagement of the Vatican machinery? And at 76, will he just be a caretaker Pope?

Well, the world will always be the world until the end of time. Its language and logic will often be dominated by passion rather than by reason, and much less by faith. Yet, in spite of all that, the grain of truth and the seed of charity can never be lost completely. And so let’s just be game and try to sort out things as best as we can.

Patience, therefore, is the name of the game. In the meantime, let’s remind ourselves some basic, indispensable truths about the Pope and the papacy, and try to craft a plan to educate everyone about how we ought to think about the Pope.

The first thing we have to remember is that everything about the Pope and the papacy is a matter of faith. We cannot take them mainly, and much less fully, from an earthly, temporal point of view, be it historical, cultural, political, sociological, ideological, etc. Our attitude should be theological, more than anything else.

Not that all the other considerations have nothing to say and contribute. But we need to understand that the directing force of faith should take precedence. Absent this, then the whole exercise will have no other end but doom. We would be missing the whole point about the Pope and the papacy.

This is not going to be easy to take, I know, especially by those who are very opinionated about anything that has significance in the national or the world stage. Faith is like asking them to deny themselves, which is a central part of Christ’s teachings that they cannot understand.

We have to understand that the Pope, whoever he may be as long as he is elected properly, is the Vicar of Christ here on earth. St. Catherine would call him the “sweet Christ on earth.”

As our Catechism teaches us, “The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’” (882) He has full, surprise and universal power over the whole Church.

That description alone should make us realize that we all need to follow the Pope, to be close and united to him in mind and heart, in his teachings and directives, irrespective of who he is.

There is a Latin expression which I think summarizes the proper attitude we ought to have toward the Pope. “Omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam” (all with Peter to Jesus through Mary).

This is how we ought to welcome Pope Francis!





Team Patay, Team Buhay

March 8, 2013

IT’S simply amazing how one tarp turned this country upside down.

On the one hand, there is Fr. Felix Pasquin, the rector of St. Sebastian Cathedral who had the tarp set up, and, on the other hand, the horde of cafeteria Catholics, among them an outspoken priest of a supposedly Catholic university who believe the Bacolod archdiocese has overstepped its bounds by campaigning for certain candidates.

Even Inquirer columnist Randy David weighed in with his own take via his “When Religion Turns Political” article in the Inquirer of March 2, 2013.

So the question is asked: “Is Fr. Pasquin’s tarp political or religious?

All it’d take, in my opinion, is a cursory study of Church teaching to see that in putting up that tarp, Fr. Pasquin, Bishop Vicente M. Navarra and the archdiocese’s 90 priests are simply obeying the Founder’s order.

Clueless cafeteria Catholics, including Mr. Randy David, may have never heard about it before, but it is the Church, not the State, that’s responsible for guiding men to their ultimate destination: heaven.

For instance, here’s Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical “Immortale Dei”: “It is to the Church and not to the State that belongs the right to guide men to celestial things; it is to the Church that God has given the command to take cognizance of and to decide everything that relates to religion, to teach all nations, to extend, as far as possible, the frontiers of the Christian name; in a word, to administer freely and as she sees fit, the Christian interests of the souls confided to her care.”

Pope Leo XIII continues: “Thus everything that in human affairs is sacred for any cause whatsoever, everything that refers to the salvation of souls and the worship of God, either by its intrinsic nature or on account of its end, all this evidently belongs to the au­thority of the Church. As to things embraced in the civil and political order, it is but just that they should be subject to civil authority, because Jesus Christ has commanded us to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

The State can levy taxes, impose tariff on imported goods, order men of a certain age to military duty, forge alliances with other countries, set the bidding guidelines for public works, among others, but the State may not do anything that steps on the rights of the Church and the laws of God.

That much is clear. Bible says “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5, 29.). And, instead of disagreeing, the Philippine Constitution actually guarantees this right. Art. II Sec 6 says “The Separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.” Nothing could be clearer than that, and only those who fail to look up what, really, is meant by “Separation of Church and State” will claim otherwise.

The moment the State passed that infernal bill, it effectively encroached upon a matter that’s not its own to encroach upon. By practically legislating intrinsic evil contraception into the lives of the people, the State effectively overstepped its bounds, leaving the Church with no choice but to insist on her right.

By reminding the faithful of their divinely-generated responsibility to keep God’s laws, Fr. Pasquin did not overstep his bounds, it is Comelec that overstepped its own bounds.

Mr. Randy David cited Pope Benedict XVI as having insisted on a strict delineation of responsibilities, interpreting the Pope’s statements as prohibiting Fr. Pasquin from putting up that tarp. But Mr David merely read into the Pope’s statements what he (Mr. David) wants to hear the Pope say. In fact, such is not what the Pope had in mind at all.

And what made me say that? Well, in response to a query sent to him by the U.S. bishops on how Catholic voters should act in the face of candidates supporting abortion and euthanasia, the Pope replied: “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

By posting the tarp, Fr. Pasquin was merely doing his job: reminding the faithful that they would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil if they vote for certain candidates because they voted for the RH Bill. And Fr. Pasquin was simply doing his job as shepherd by including a list of candidates voting for whom will keep the faithful from committing formal cooperation in evil.





Statement on the Sabah crisis

By Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID)
March 7, 2013

Muslim Mindanao, particularly the natives of the Island provinces, will be commemorating Bangsamoro Day on March 18, the infamous day of the Jabidah Massacre where young Tausug mujahideen were killed by the military in 1968 after the botched attempt of the Marcos regime to send a special assault team to Sabah with the express purpose of creating instability, thus allowing the Philippine military to step in and reclaim Sabah. Bangsamoro Day has become a day of recognition of our distinct identity as Bangsamoro people.

However, the celebration this year is wrought with sorrow. In an eerie coincidence, Sabah has again become the cause of bloodshed. It is unfortunate that the escalating hostilities in Lahad Datu have spilled over to other areas such as Sempurna, where thousands of Filipinos have resided for decades. Our fear for the lives of unprotected innocents remains unabated, as we listen to reports of the growing number of casualties.

In view of the alarming turn of events, which has become bleaker every minute, we strongly urge Malaysia to cease its excessive use of force against a group of Filipinos, inadequately armed and clearly outnumbered. We join the UN Secretary General’s call for the immediate end to the violence in Lahad Datu and other areas in Sabah. For humanitarian reasons, an immediate cessation of hostilities is in order to avert further loss of lives and destruction of property. To enforce the ceasefire, we call on independent parties, such as the UN Peacekeeping Forces, to maintain order in the conflict areas.

We reiterate the widespread call for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the Sabah debacle between the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysian security forces. We join the United Nations’ call for both parties to dialogue and avoid further destruction of lives and property. We urge Malaysia to allow Red Crescent access, thus providing innocent victims and casualties medical assistance and humanitarian aid.

The highly volatile situation calls for tempered and experienced leaders, knowledgeable about the underlying issues, to diffuse the tensions. We call on the Aquino Administration to create a Crisis Committee to work on a peaceful and just resolution of the Lahad Datu crisis. The Crisis Committee should be headed by the Office of the President and should include the National Security Council, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Commission on Human Rights as well as representatives of the Sultanate and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

The CC shall endeavor to address the present crisis in Sabah through legal avenues available, within the framework of international, regional and bilateral treaties, accords and other legal instruments binding on Malaysia and the Philippines.

We reecho the call by the Philippine Government for Malaysia to observe maximum tolerance should be pursued in the context of Islamic Brotherhood and ASEAN unity.

We also appeal, as one Ummah, to the Muslim countries within the ASEAN to help resolve the situation in Sabah peacefully to avert further loss of lives.

We call on all the members of the Royalty and Nobility of the Sulu Sultanate to unite behind the search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

We also urge the Aquino administration to actively explore options to resolve the Philippines’ claim to Sabah. A just and peaceful resolution of the claim of the Sulu Sultanate, erstwhile ceded to the Philippine Government, will remove a thorny issue that has caused much uncertainty between Malaysia and the Philippines.

We further urge the Philippine Government to protect the proprietary rights of Sultan Jamalul Alam’s heirs, identified in the 1939 ruling of Chief Justice C.F.C. Macaskie of the High Court of the North Borneo. All the principal heirs have died. The rights of their successors-in-interest, most of whom are Filipino citizens, must be protected by the Philippine Government.

We call on the Philippine Government to create a Sabah Committee, under the Office of the President, to address the Philippine claim to Sabah. The members of the Committee should include the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Justice, Department of National Defense, Mindanao Development Authority, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, a representative of the Sultanate of Sulu as well as a representative of the heirs to Sabah.

We call on the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives to pass a resolution expressing the sense of both chambers on the Lahad Datu crisis and to authorize the executive branch to pursue the Sabah claim peacefully and legally, and to ensure the protection of Filipinos residing in Sabah.

We pray that leaders, Filipino and Malaysian, will prioritize the lives of citizens and the peace and security of both our countries.





Exercising parental authority

March 4, 2013

“…big sectors in society today, especially those influenced by leftist and Godless ideologies, consider authority as simply originating from them.”

Exercising authority is always both a delicate and rewarding duty. This is especially so when done toward growing children. That’s where one’s integrity and the authenticity of his love, with its usual demand for sacrifice, can be shown, as well as developed.

That’s because it’s in the home, living with the children 24/7, where the battlefront of this exercise is located. In other aspects of our life, as in our profession, social or political life, the exercise of authority can be intermittent and can easily be delegated to others. Not quite so in the family, with children still growing up.

We, of course, know that the power and authority we may have over the others is always a participation of the authority of God. And such authority should be exercised with God’s will always in mind.

That’s what St. Paul clarified. In his letter to the Romans, he said, “There is no power but from God, and those that are, are ordained of God.” (13,1) We need to be clear about this, because many times we can feel that the authority we wield is simply ours.

Or that our authority comes from us individually or personally, or from among ourselves through some consensus, and that it can be used to pursue solely our own goals and designs.

This point has to be brought out because big sectors in society today, especially those influenced by leftist and Godless ideologies, consider authority as simply originating from them.

They confuse the divine beginning and end of authority with the mechanics of who to assign it among ourselves, what its coverage is, how to exercise it, etc., all of which can be decided among ourselves.

Of course, in the context of the family, parental authority is easily recognized by the children. No need to figure it out through some election or other screening processes. What is to be kept in mind more is that this parental authority be maintained and done properly.

But how can we do this? I suppose that first of all we have to be reminded that power and authority has to be used as an expression of love, shown in deeds of service, and not regarded as an entitlement to some privilege or advantage over the others.

Christ himself warned his disciples about this. He said: “You know that the princes of the Gentiles lord it over them, and they that are greater exercise power upon them.

“It shall not be so among you. But whoever will be the greater among you, let him be your minister, and he that will be first among you, shall be your servant, even as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve...” (Mt 20,25-27)

In the context of the family, the parental authority can be done well if it is exercised to give the children the basic equipment to become better persons and ultimately, better children of God.

This can happen if the parents can show by consistent example to their children that they are happy with their own lives that are dedicated in pursuit of the love of God in all aspects of their lives.

Besides that, they should exercise their authority with due respect and an unconditional love for their children, treating them as they are but slowly molding them to be good persons and children of God.

This is how the parents can gain their children’s trust and confidence in an increasingly meaningful way. Children are usually observant of their parents and tend to imitate them even automatically.

If they see their parents praying and how that prayer is helping their parents, making them happy and at the same time able to cope with all the challenges of life, then the children will just develop a love for prayer and the a love for cultivating a life of faith and hope.

How parents react to the different events and circumstances of life, both good and bad, happy and sad, is also how the children will learn to react in similar events and circumstances.

That’s why parents really have to spend time with the children. They should see to it that they organize their life, especially in the aspect of their profession and other social obligations, such that the quality time with the children is not compromised.

They have to cultivate healthy family practices and traditions to foster family life, and to exercise parental authority effectively, and even with the children not noticing it.





PCID Statement on the Transition Commission

By Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy
February 28, 2013

The Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy lauds the appointment of the members of the Transition Commission of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which is tasked with the drafting of the Basic Law as envisioned in the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) signed last October 15, 2012. The Basic Law will set up the new autonomous political entity called “Bangsamoro” by June 30, 2016.

The TransCom will be chaired by MILF peace panel chair Mohagher Iqbal. The seven (7) members representing government are Akmad A. Sakkam, Johaira C. Wahab, Talib A. Benito, Asani S. Tammang, Pedrito A. Eisma, Froilyn T. Mendoza and Fatmawati T. Salapuddin. The members representing the MILF are Iqbal, Maulana Alonto, Abdullah Camlian, Ibrahim D. Ali, Raissa H. Jajurie, Melanio U. Ulama, Hussein P. Munoz and Said M. Shiek.

PCID congratulates the Government and the MILF for ensuring the representation of women, thru Wahab, Mendoza and Salapuddin (GPH) and Jajurie (MILF). We also applaud the representation for the Indigenous peoples thru Mendoza from the GPH and Ulama from the MILF.

PCID notes, however, that Tawi-Tawi has no official representation in the TransCom considering that the domain of the New Political Entity will be the Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, it is unfortunate that Tawi-Tawi has no representation.

Tawitawi leader Ismael Abubakar, Jr, former Speaker of the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly, noted that while the members of the Transtion Commission are “qualified in terms of education competence and experience”, he regrets that Tawi-Tawi which had “played an active role in the struggle and in the history of autonomy were left out without any representation”.

It is however hoped that genuine consultations on all stakeholders will be undertaken by the Commission in the disposition of its tasks to reach at the most inclusive formula.

As the 15-member Transition Commission prepares to draft the Basic Law, which is still subject to the awaited FAB Annexes on power-sharing and wealth-sharing due to be completed by March 2013, PCID hopes that attention will be given to issues concerning the expansion and independence of the Shari’ah legal system. PCID further urges that attention be given to fiscal autonomy and the need to develop policies to establish the foundation for Shari’ah-compliant business and investments to flourish within the Bangsamoro.





Statement of SELDA on the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013

February 25, 2013

Twenty seven long years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, a law confirming the atrocities and human rights violations under martial law is finally signed into law. The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA, which led the filing of the historic class suit by the martial law victims against Ferdinand E. Marcos in a Hawaii court, welcomes the passage of the Human Rights Violation Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

This is another victory of the Martial Law victims in their continuing struggle for justice. Through their relentless efforts, finally and officially recognized are the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who fought the dictatorship and were victims of human rights violations – summary execution, torture, enforced disappearances and all other gross forms of violations. They faced adversity, but took the courage to stand up and defend, not only theirs, but the people’s rights.

The struggle was protracted. The process was agonizing and tedious. Scores of members of the Philippine Congress, in cahoots with the Marcoses and the military who vehemently opposed the passage of the law, tried to block its passing. In some instances, they deliberately delayed the process or watered down the crafted bill.

Now, with a regime posturing as a “champion of human rights” and trying to score credits for its passage, the law was passed but mainly due to the persistent efforts of the martial law victims themselves. Tirelessly working hand-in-hand with progressive party-lists and likeminded legislators, the bill was finalized and ratified. Generally, the law is acceptable to the victims and survivors of martial law.

We take this opportunity to commend and express our gratitude to Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño, who stood with us since the filing of the bill, pursuing the most pro-victim provisions, and consistently pushing, on behalf of the victims, the legislature to finally approve the bill. We also appreciate the support of Senators Chiz Escudero and TG Guingona, and Reps. Edcel Lagman and Erin Tañada.

Here and abroad, we were supported by various peace, justice and human rights advocates in the campaign for the bill’s passage. We extend our solidarity and gratefulness to solidarity groups in the United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland who warmly supported and mobilized in the campaign for the passage of the law, as well as in helping the victims every step of the way. We also thank the members of Parliament of Switzerland as well as its mission in Geneva for lending an ear to the victims’ pleas every time we lobby for their support. Most of all, we commend and deeply thank the members of the peace panel and consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who tirelessly asserted, in the process of all peace negotiations with the Philippine government, that the victims of Martial Law should attain justice.

It is with pain and regret for us to witness the passage of this law at a time when many of our fellow victims and colleagues, who took part in the struggle against martial rule, have gone ahead of us. Also, there are still attempts to distort, sometimes even completely erase in the memory of our people, the dark days of the dictatorship. There are those among the architects of martial law who remain scot-free and unpunished. The most notorious culprits have been allowed to regain their political power and influence.

Under the law, the Philippine government is obliged to recognize and give reparation to the victims of human rights violations during martial law. While all the sacrifices and heroism of the Filipino people during martial law is priceless, we see these both as an affirmation to the people who struggle for justice, and as a warning to those who will continue to impose fascism and terror upon the Filipino people.

We dedicate this small victory to all martial law martyrs and heroes who have gone before us. We will continue to honor them, as we ensure that this law shall be implemented to the best interest of the victims and the Filipino people who survived martial law.

We may be jubilant, but we continue to watch with vigilance. To fully ensure that the law will serve the rightful victims and claimants, we will try to make sure that the HRV Victims Claims Board shall be composed of individuals who, in one way or another, know and can feel with the victims and have been involved in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorial regime.

We take cognizance that SELDA is part of the recommending entities to the Claims Board. We challenge the administration to appoint nominees of SELDA despite some government officials’ bias given SELDA’s political stands.

Also, it should be ensured that those who are included in the master list of the 9,539 victims and those who will consequently file their claims are those who were genuinely part of the struggle against martial law. We should guard against unnecessary bureaucratic processes and scams which will deprive the victims of just indemnification.

We should also take the opportunity to make the younger generation learn, understand and take on the challenge of having the same daring, vigilance, militancy and commitment to justice and human rights.

It has been 40 years after martial law but human rights violations continue to be committed, and with impunity. There has not been much change except for the worse under the dispensations that succeeded the U.S.-Marcos regime. The Marcos laws and executive orders were retained by the succeeding administrations. The militarist mindset and fascist machinery remain intact especially with the continuous implementation of the US-backed counter-insurgency programs.

As long as human rights violations continue, with or without martial law, we stand with the people for justice, democracy and human rights. NEVER AGAIN will we allow the enemies of the people to perpetuate the same injustices, oppression and exploitation against the majority of the Filipino people.



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