Freezing of Ladlad’s rights compensation seeks to invalidate his claims to justice vs martial law atrocities —Karapatan

Human rights watchdog Karapatan denounced the freezing of the two bank accounts of political prisoner Vicente Ladlad, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, which contain funds from the indemnification he received in line with Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

The said accounts were reportedly frozen after Ladlad was arbitrarily designated by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) in May 2021. On May 31, 2021, his wife, Fides Lim, wrote to Prof. Benjamin Diokno, Governor of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas and Chairperson of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), to lift the freeze order.

“As arbitrary as the designation of Ladlad and other peace consultants in the list of the ATC, the freezing of his bank accounts, funds therein are essentially blood money by the Marcoses for the torture and illegal detention of Ladlad and abduction and disappearance of his former wife, shows the terror law’s impact on civil liberties,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Palabay said that this incident followed the AMLC’s freezing of the bank accounts of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines – Haran Center and that of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which are humanitarian organizations, through the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

“This practice and trend have been seen in countries where counter-terror laws are being used to stifle dissent and to derail the activities of civil society actors and political dissenters. With the Anti-Terrorism Act, these unjust and arbitrary acts are now being done in the Philippines,” she added.

The Karapatan official further averred that in Ladlad’s case, the funds in his bank accounts do not only mean monetary indemnification. “It is a symbolic acknowledgement that human rights violations were committed against Ladlad during the dictator Marcos’ martial law regime. The freezing of his accounts and future attempts of civil forfeiture does not only deny Ladlad’s right to use the said funds for his medical needs; it also seeks to invalidate his claims to justice,” Palabay asserted.

Karapatan supported Lim’s call against the designation of her husband as well as that of other peace consultants and the freeze order on their accounts. “We call on the Supreme Court to declare the Anti-Terrorism Act as an unconstitutional legislation that has reared its ugly head in these recent cases,” Palabay concluded.