Restitution is due for Marcos abuses
The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed a ruling that would have begun payment of restitution to human-rights victims of former Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos.
Human-rights victims of the Philippine regime of Ferdinand Marcos endured another blow in the U.S. Supreme Court's reversal of an award granted by a federal jury in Honolulu more than a decade ago. Diplomacy may be needed to pressure the Philippines government to begin making payments in restitution for summary executions, disappearances and torture.
The jury awarded $2 billion to 9,500 victims of Marcos but not a dime has been paid. The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that they should receive payments from $35 million in a Marcos shell company's Merrill Lynch account that had grown from $2 million since 1972, but the high court overturned the ruling last week by a 7-2 vote.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled last year that the Philippines should provide "compensation and prompt resolution of their case on the enforcement of the U.S. judgment." The panel pointed out that "minor complexity" of accounts tied up in foreign banks and Philippine claims of ownership of accounts had stood in the way of making payments to the victims.
The Philippines have invoked sovereign immunity from making payments ordered by the Honolulu jury. The Philippine government has made claims to the Merrill Lynch account along with money stolen by Marcos and deposited in foreign banks. His family is accused of stealing $10 billion from the government, but only a small fraction has been recovered.
Bills to make payments to the victims have been pending in the Philippine congress, including one to allocate $210 million. Pressure to make the congress stop dragging its feet is needed to approve the legislation, which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is waiting to sign.
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