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QUEZON CITY -- On 19 April 2016, President Benigno Aquino III approved Republic Act No. 10766, which modifies the sunset clause of R.A. No. 10368, otherwise known as the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.”

        Said amendatory law gives the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (The Board) sufficient time up to 12 May 2018 to resolve all claims for reparation and/or recognition, and bring justice to Martial Law human rights violations victims (HRVVs). The number of received claims actually ballooned from 20,000 to 75,730.

        “We have already deliberated about 15% of the total claims received,” Board Chairperson Lina C. Sarmiento said. “Part of the task of our legal team is to reduce the deliberations into writing, they have been doing so since January.” For many claims, the Board Divisions sent interlocutory orders for claimants to furnish, within fifteen (15) days, additional documents to facilitate evaluation of their claims.

        Chairperson Sarmiento further explains that the careful evaluation of these claims is important for the protection of legitimate Martial Law HRVVs. “We need to identify spurious, fictitious and fraudulent claims,” she continued. “The law even allows for the remedies of appeal and opposition. This demands that our resolutions be legally sound and complete.”

        After resolving the claims, the Board is mandated to circulate, once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks, a preliminary list of eligible claimants. Notices of the decisions will likewise be sent to the applicant’s address registered in the claims database.

         Any opposition or appeal filed by aggrieved parties within the prescribed period shall be decided upon by the Board en banc. Thereafter, a final list of eligible claimants will be published and made basis for the computation for the award of monetary reparations.

         “It should be emphasized that the distribution of monetary reparations will be made simultaneously, at a given period, after all 75,730 applications are resolved.” Chairperson Sarmiento adds, “we have no authority to make partial payments because the law requires that the computation of the value of reparations be based on the total number of points given, which we cannot determine prior to resolving all claims.”

        The Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board is an independent quasi-judicial body created pursuant to R.A. No. 10368 to recognize and provide reparations to victims of human rights violation committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.