The decision of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB) to release initial payments to 4,000 eligible claimants by the second quarter of 2017 was presented to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as a response to the need to facilitate the reparation process in a meeting held last 19 January 2017, Thursday.
“We presented the plan and the President expressed support. However, we are still bound to comply with all the processes required by law,” HRVCB Chairperson Lina C. Sarmiento explained.
The Board’s first meeting with the President and key cabinet officials concluded with an agreement to make immediate the partial distribution of monetary reparations. The President and his cabinet members, including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, committed to assist the Board through various offices of the Executive Department.
To date, the Board has adjudicated a total of 30,027 claims. RA 10368, as amended by RA 10766, requires that distribution of monetary reparation can only be made after a decision on each claim is reached with finality. This means that before monetary reparations can be distributed, the list of 4,000 preliminary eligible claimants must be published, appeals or oppositions resolved, and the corresponding partial final list duly published. The resolution of appeals and opposition will be decided by the Board en banc.
The processes for the release of monetary reparation for the first 4,000 approved claims will be done simultaneously with the evaluation and deliberation of the remaining 45,703 applications for reparation and/or recognition.
“Based on our timeline, we are on track. When we started work, we adopted a strategy of completing the evaluation of all 75,730 applications first. We contemplated partial pay-outs early on but opted to stick to full completion of the initial phase of adjudication in light of resource constraints. With the expression of commitment and support by the President, we are confident that the Claims Board will be able to make partial payments and complete the task of adjudicating all the claims within the period provided by law,” added Chairperson Sarmiento.
After the meeting of the President and the Board, the President hosted a dinner to facilitate further discussions between the Board and the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) members regarding the plan to release partial compensation this year.