The claims of human rights victims will be givenÂ another two-year extension after the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights approved last WednesdayÂ House Bill No. 6024Â providing for such extension.
RA 10368 was passed during the term of Rep. Rene L. Relampagos who was Chair of the House Committee on Human Rights seeks to provide recognition and reparation, both monetary and non-monetary, to all victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law regime. Once found to be entitled, they will be given compensation which amount will have to be determined by the HRVCB, which was created under the said legislation, after all the claims have been adjudicated. In addition, their names shall be enshrined in the Roll of Victims of Human Rights Violations, in acknowledgement of their heroism and sacrifice. It was signed into law last February 25, 2013 by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
The law provides that the HRVCB will only be in existence for two years after the effectivity of the Implementing Rules and Regulations which was promulgated last May 12, 2014. However,Â upon recommendation by the HRVCB, there is a need to extend the existence of the body in order to fully accomplish its purpose of adjudicating the claims and finally giving due compensation to all entitled under the law.
Among the justifications cited by ChairLina Sarmiento of the HRVCB is the bulk of claims filed which amounted to 75,730. Of which number, the board has only disposed of around 11,000 claims to date. â€œThe difficulty really is on the separate evaluation and the writing of decision for each and every claim,â€ she said. â€œTo finish evaluating all claims, we have to finish adjudicating around 1,080 claims per week and with five (5) lawyers at the board, the task is really daunting.â€
Last January 26, 2016, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights approved the two year extension.Initially, the proposal of the HOR is only for a one-year extension. However, with the approval of the Senate counterpart of two-years and with three session days to go, the HOR Committee decided to approve the measure and agreed to the extension of two-years.
Rep. Relampagos explained, â€œWe are really hard-pressed for time, if we agree with the Senate version of two years extension, then the law can be passed before Congress adjourns for the elections. If we insist on a different period, then we have to go through bicam (bicameral committee conference) which I think is not feasible at this time. There is danger that the bill will not pass. And if not passed, the existence of the claims board will automatically end on May 12, 2016 without completing its task of giving compensation to victims of human rights violations. This would be most detrimental.â€
Representatives from the Commission on Human Rights, Department of Justice, Amnesty International supported for the proposed extension.