Swiss head hopes compensation for Marcos' victims
President Pascal Couchepin hope the Philippine Congress would soon pass a law compensating 10,000 victims of human rights abuses under the late Ferdinand Marcos.11 August 2008
MANILA - Switzerland's President Pascal Couchepin on Monday expressed hope that the Philippine Congress would soon pass a law compensating nearly 10,000 victims of human rights abuses under the dictatorship of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Couchepin, who was in Manila for a two-day state visit, conveyed to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo "the firm expectation of the Swiss government that the Philippine Congress may soon enact the Human Rights Compensation bill," a government statement said.
The statement noted that Arroyo "assured Couchepin that her administration attaches great importance to the speedy passage of the law so that human rights victims may be justly compensated."
The human rights victims, who filed a class-action suit against the Marcos estate shortly after the dictator was deposed in a popular uprising in 1986, had been awarded USD 2 billion (CHF 2.2 billion) by a Hawaiian jury in 1995.
But the victims have yet to receive compensation because most of Marcos' wealth was ruled by Philippine courts to be illegally acquired and belonging to the national treasury.
Filipino legislators, however, have proposed a law that would allocate compensation for the victims from millions of dollars recovered from Marcos' illegally amassed assets.
The proposal is still under deliberation in Congress.
The Philippine government has so far recovered more than USD 600 million of Marcos' illegal wealth, mostly from secret bank accounts in Switzerland.
While Arroyo has already set aside money for the victims from the recovered money, the funds cannot yet be disbursed because current laws provide that all recovered wealth is to be used solely for the country's agrarian reform programme.
During their meeting, Couchepin "also assured President Arroyo of the continuing support for Philippine authorities in recovering Marcos' assets in Switzerland and in third countries."
Ferdinand Marcos and his family are accused of looting an estimated USD 5 billion from national coffers during his rule. He was ousted by a popular four-day mass uprising in February 1986, and died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
[dpa / Expatica]
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