People’s lawyers join the people’s battlecry: Never again!
On the signing of the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 and the occasion of the 27th anniversary of People Power II:
The signing of the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 by President Benigno Aquino III is a welcome relic for today’s commemoration of the 27th anniversary of the ouster from power of the fascist dictator Marcos. This legislation is a piece for jubilation though not necessarily a gush of fresh air. The statute is not the equivalent of the sacrifices of the several hundreds of martyrs who fought the dictatorship even through systematic patterns of torture, losing their lives or the use of their limbs in the process. It does not and can never pay for the peace of mind that has irretrievably dissipated as they close their eyes in sleep or remembrance, and for the family life that was dismembered for a cause they believed in and lived out. What they can see and recall, several long years later, though till now more of the same, are the anguish and the pain they had to endure at the hands of the vilest and most cruel persecutors of their time.
The Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 is very important, even if belated, because it is a three-step process towards transforming an otherwise moribund society.
First, society recognizes the martyrdom of the martyrs and heroes. The statute memorializes their heroic deeds beyond rhetoric. Society pays tribute where honor is really due and demanded. If properly implemented, the law becomes the Libingan ng mga Bayani and the plaques of appreciation several times over.
Second, the statute stands as a stark and grisly reminder of the evils that plagued the peoples whom the martyrs stood up for. It cries a thousand rivers for what could very well have been forgotten by this time – the rapacity, corruption, and abuses characterizing the regime of Marcos. It is a testament to the truth and a counterfoil for those who are perverting history through their perjured and fairy tales of great courage and selflessness.
Third, hopefully, this legislation stakes out a warning to those who posing as leaders have no reason for existing but to steal, violate the peoples’ rights and trust, and to fodder servilely for foreign interests.
The fight is not over with President Aquino’s signing of the enrolled bill into law. It is just the beginning. For starters, the signing should not have been used for partisan political purposes for this year’s mid-term elections. It should have been opened to as many of the martyrs as the Liwasang Bonifacio can accommodate.
Next, the government is hard-pressed to make the budget for its implementation readily available. Again, it ought not to follow the route of the release of the pork barrel. Then the process for qualifying must be transparent and open. It should avoid the bureaucratic shenanigans that this government is known to have succumbed to. The experience with the open-pit SMI-Xtrata mining project is just so fresh to ignore.
This law is a belated but certainly not diminished thanks to and for them, and can never ever be over the hill. The NUPL does not just have its curiosity over this statute; it has its full attention.
The NUPL shall closely monitor the implementation of the Human Rights Victim Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. It will not allow any government to toy with much less disparage this endeavour to bring justice to our martyrs and the peoples for whom they laid their lives.
And it will continue to be out there to join the people’s battle cry: Never Again! Indeed, never, ever again. #
Reference: Atty. Edre U. Olalia, NUPL Secretary General (+639175113373)