MILF: Are massacres’ victims also entitled to compensation?

IN THE wake of the current payment of compensations to victims of martial law during late President Ferdinand Marcos’s regime, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has asked Judge Manuel Real of the U.S. District Court of Hawaii, who approved the distribution of $7.5 million to 7,526 eligible members of the class-action lawsuit, “are the tens of thousands of Moros who were victims of massacres also entitled to compensation?”

Khaled Musa, deputy chairman of the MILF committee on information, posed this question during an interview with www.luwaran.com after many relatives of those victims of massacres that took place in various parts of Mindanao during martial law asked him about the possibility of also getting compensation for the loss of their loved ones.

He answered his own question and his reply was candid and straightforward: “They have not filed their petitions; they are dead, and therefore they cannot expect anything forthcoming.”

The ruling stipulated that only those who perfected their claims are entitled to compensation, who filed their class suit against the Marcoses in 1986. Each of the victims is entitled to $1,000 compensation, which is taken from the $10 million settlement of a case against individuals controlling Texas and Colorado land bought with Marcos money, but some $2.5 million was deducted for legal fees and payment to the person who located the properties.

Government soldiers and state-sponsored paramilitary forces (Ilagas) had perpetrated several bloody massacres against innocent Moro civilians in the 1970s, some of which are as follows: Manili Massacre, Kauswagan Massacre, Tictapul Massacre, Malisbong Massacre (1,000 Moros killed en masse), Patikul Massacre (700 Moros), and Pata Island Massacre (some 3,000).

American lawyer Robert Swift earlier said “The distribution is historic and a triumph after 25 years of struggle to achieve justice.”

Swift and his Filipino co-counsels, assisted by the Commission on Human Rights, distributed checks personally to claimants or their heirs in Manila and 15 other locations in the country.

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