CA junks $2-B claim of Marcos rights victims

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 17 2017 09:57 PM

The Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the plea of human rights victims during the term of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos for the enforcement of a United States court decision awarding them $2 billion in compensation.

The appellate court, through its 12th Division penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, affirmed on July 7 a ruling of the Makati Regional Trial Court dismissing the petition filed by a group led by former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Etta Rosales and film director Joel Lamangan, stating that the ruling of the United States District Court in Hawaii is not binding for lack of
jurisdiction.

The Hawaii court, in its February 3, 1995 ruling on a class suit filed by some 10,000 victims, awarded the victims compensation.

In its 19-page decision, the CA disagreed with the Hawaii court’s classification of the claimants into torture, summary execution, and disappearance victims, stating it showed “there was no common question of law and facts” between and among the claimants, under which condition, the case cannot fall as a class suit.

“[E]ach claimant in MDL 840 had a right, if any, only to the damage that such individual may have suffered, and not one of them had any right to or can claim any interest in the damage or injury which another suffered. Hence, MDL 840 was not and should not have been brought as a class suit,” the decision read.

The appellate court also found the Hawaii court decision to be an invalid judgment because it was anchored on a different law, the Torture Victim Protection Act, instead of the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) of 1789, which grants jurisdiction to US courts over civil actions filed by a foreigner concerning violations of international
laws.

"Given the foregoing recent development, it is our considered opinion that the instant final judgment may not be enforced in this jurisdiction as it is clear that even the US Supreme Court has come to realize that American laws could not have jurisdiction over sovereign countries," the decision read.

The appellate court further said the right to due process of the Marcos estate, as well as that of claimants, was violated, and there was failure on the part of at least 10 claimants to show they were "truly and legally authorized by the other purported claimants.” These claimants are Celsa Hilao, Josefina Hilao Forcadilla, Arturo Revilla, Jr., Rodolfo Benosa, Danila Fuente, Renato Pineda, Adora Faye de Vera, Domiciano Amparo, Christopher Sorio, and Jose Duran.

"It boggles the mind how the final judgment could be enforced when the supposed claimants were not even identified… it gave no opportunity for the Marcos Estate to confront each and every claimant.

"Evidently, the right to due process of both parties was violated,” the decision read.