Friday, February 11, 2005

Should we compensate the victims of the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship? Or do we shave the head of Imelda Marcos, make her put on an orange shirt with

Imelda's future suite

a big "P" at the back, set aside some space at the Women's Correctional Institution in Manila, then ask the cable TV companies to open a new cable channel meant solely to show how she will live the glamorous life in the next 40 years dealing with (1) surot inside a tiny cubicle partitioned with cardboard and plywood, (2) the warm ventilating recycled breath of her cellmates (jail capacity: 500; actual inmate population: 951), (3) P10 meals of NFA-rice and, ah, something that the relative of the warden who won the rigged bidding for the jail's food supply calls "soup"and of course (4)fun showers with any gang of women Marcos loyalist inmates that should be all hers to lead.

Coming soon?

If you really want to know whether that will ever happen maybe you can ask here and here. For now read this: here are two papers written by an LL.M. student in New York University Law School's Global Public Service Lawyering Program (GPSLP).

The author was involved in the effort to recover $683 Million in (the known) Swiss deposits that Imelda Marcos (using, among other pseudonyms, "Jane Ryan") and her late husband amassed from 1968 to 1986. He was also involved in the drafting of the pending bill in the Philippine Congress that seeks to amend the agrarian reform law and use $200 Million of the recovered Marcos Swiss deposits to compensate the dictatorship's victims. The first paper ("Plunder and Pain") deals with the need to establish a Truth Commission to document both the brutality of the Marcos dictatorship and the greed of the Marcoses and their associates. The second paper ("Upholding Human Rights and Fighting Corruption") deals with the on-going debates in Manila over how the process of compensating the victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship should happen. That process has been delayed by endless multi-country litigation (which may have finally ended last week in a US court) and derailed by the remnants of the dictatorship who, with their ill-gotten wealth, have climbed back to the heights of political power.

The first paper mentions the work of the International Center for Transitional Justice, a New York-based NGO whose lawyers and associates played an active role in the Truth Commission and transitional justice processes in South Africa, Chile, Peru and East Timor, among others. The ICTJ has met with some Philippine government and non-government leaders on the possibility of establishing a Truth Commission in Manila. Whatever the outcome of that, these papers deal with unlearned lessons in transitional justice or, more accurately, of transitions that did not come with justice.

Rant and rage.


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