Marcos Jr.’s US trip insults martial law survivors, kin

In a press conference, martial law survivors and son of one of the named plaintiffs in the landmark class action suit in Hawaii, US decried the upcoming state visit of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the United States, calling it an “insult” to human rights violations victims as they mark the 50th year after the imposition of martial law by his father, the dictator Marcos Sr.

martial law survivors and kin 

Ron de Vera, son of Adora Faye de Vera, one of the named plaintiffs in the class action suit who testified to her torture and rape during martial law, chided Marcos for his and his family’s continued effort to ignore the Hawaii class suit won in 1995 by victims of martial law. A standing contempt judgment issued against Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in 2011 for violating a court prohibition against the sale of any of their properties in the United States in relation to the Hawaii class suit, awaits when he sets foot in the US. The said judgment sets a fine of $100,000 per day to be awarded to the 9,539 class members of the Hawaii class suit.

“Despite the intense trauma they experienced, my mother and thousands of other victims chose to seek the accountability of the Marcoses in the US courts, while Marcos Jr. and his family willfully undermined their efforts to seek justice. What is more unnerving is that she now is again victimized by another Marcos, having to face arrest and detention on trumped up charges,” said de Vera. 

Adora Faye de Vera and nine other named plaintiffs, supported and led by the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), along with the other 9,539 members in the class action suit went through years of pursuing the case, after it was filed on April 7, 1986. On September 23, 1992, the US Federal District Court of Hawaii issued its judgement in favor of the Marcos victims, finding Marcos guilty of gross human rights violations and finding the Estate of Marcos liable to pay damages to the victims. 

The Marcoses appealed the federal court decision, and in March 1997, the US Supreme Court upheld the Hawaii federal court decision, making the class action suit a landmark case on the issue of human rights jurisprudence.  

Bonifacio Ilagan, former SELDA Vice Chairperson and current convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA), said that the “immunity bestowed on Ferdinand Marcos by the US government as Head of State  precludes the execution of a court judgment.” 

“With the standing contempt judgement against Marcos Jr., we call on Hawaii District Court Judge Derrick Watson to compel Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to pay the court judgment fine when he visits the United States. We enjoin the Court to exhaust all remedies at its disposal to enforce the judgment for the sake of the victims and their families many of whom remain poor, old and now suffering from various ailments,” Ilagan said. 

As he is set to meet US government officials and  address the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and martial law victims and various groups mark the 50th year of the declaration of martial law, Ilagan chided US President Joe Biden and Heads of State at the UNGA on their responsibility to uphold human rights, truth, justice and reparations. “Providing such a platform for the son of the dictator who caused irreparable harm and violence on thousands in the Philippines is a slap on all victims of human rights violations,” he said.  

“The wounds of the violations inflicted on us remain unhealed, with decades of our quest for justice never fully served. But, there is no way they can erase, revise and distort the historical events of Marcos Sr.’s martial rule. Court records abound with accounts and decisions on the billions of funds stolen from the Filipino people and the validation of the appalling atrocities committed against thousands of Filipinos are among the truths they cannot bury through state visits and speeches. We will continue to assert our collective memory on the atrocities of the Marcoses and the Filipino people’s struggle against a fascist dictatorship,” Ilagan stated. 

SELDA will join various groups within and outside the country in protest actions on September 21, 2022. “Our protests in the Philippines and those of Filipino-led groups in the US and elsewhere will assert our calls: Never again, never forget, Tuloy ang laban!”