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Senate seeks extension of availability of funds for HR victims 'til end of 2019

The Justice and Human Rights Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, has recommended the extension of the availability of funds for victims of human rights violations during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos.

In his Committee Report 495, filed last October 10, 2018, Gordon asked his colleagues to approve without amendments Senate Joint Resolution No. 13 filed by Senators Francis Escudero and Ralph Recto extending the availability of funds for the indemnification of human rights victims until December 2019.

The House of Representatives approved its counterpart House Joint Resolution 26 in August this year.

Escudero's resolution seeks to extend the maintenance, availability and release of billions of funds deposited at the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The measure seeks to ensure that all legitimate claimants under Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims and Recognition Act of 2013 will be able to get their monetary reparations, particularly those who were issued checks by the Land Bank of the Philippines.

As of May 11, 2018, the Human Rights Victims Claims Board had been able to approve and duly recognize 11,103 claimants out of more than 75,000 applicants.

The senator noted that as of June 28, 2018, the Human Rights Victims Claims Board account with the LBP reported a balance of P792.629 million. The amount, Escudero said, can only be maintained until August 11, 2018, after which the balance would be reverted to the Bureau of Treasury.

However, there were reports from several approved claimants' relatives that they were not able to encash the checks even with the issuance of Special Powers of Attorney.

"It is the sense of the Senate and the House of Representatives that the funds be effectively distributed, especially to the approved and qualified claimants," the joint resolution stated, stressing that the Commission on Audit, the LBP and Bureau of Treasury should coordinate with the Commission on Human Rights to ensure the distribution of valid claims.