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Philippines legislature ratifies bill granting compensation for rights abuses

The Philippines House of Representatives and Senate [official websites] on Monday ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the newly reconciled version of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 [text, PDF]. The Congress on Thursday approved the bill [JURIST report] 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 based on abuses that took place between when Marcos instated martial law in 1972 until he was overthrown in 1986. Under the new bill a nine-member compensation board appointed by [GMA report] President Benigno Aquino III [official website], comprised of members a number of Filipino human rights, will evaluate claims of human rights victims and award reparations to those who qualify.

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 [official website] denied the media [JURIST report] the right to broadcast the Maguindanao massacre trial.

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