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Philippines congress approves bill granting compensation to human rights victims

The Congress of the Philippines on Thursday approved a bill on its second reading allocating 10 billion pesos (USD $246 million) for the victims of human rights abuses committed by the regime of former president Ferdinand Marcos [JURIST news archive]. Approximately 10,000 people can claim compensation [Reuters report] based on abuses that took place between when Marcos instated martial law in 1972 until he was overthrown in 1986. Should the bill be passed by a plenary session of Congress on Monday and signed into law by current President Benigno Aquino III, an independent body would be established to distribute the funds to those claiming to have suffered abuse.

The Philippines has struggled in terms of addressing human rights issues from the Marcos regime to as recently as the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre [CSM backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and the resulting political controversies. Earlier this month a 150-day ban on guns [JURIST report] was instituted to prevent election violence. In December the Philippine Congress officially criminalized [JURIST report] enforced disappearances, which were commonly used during the Marcos era. In November Amnesty International [advocacy website] called on the Philippines to do more to protect witnesses [JURIST report] in the Maguindanao Massacre trial. Also in November the Philippines Supreme Court denied the media[JURIST report] the right to broadcast that trial.

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