How to close Marcos cases

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Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ declaration of his willingness to bring closure to the issues of his father’s regime (Inquirer, 10/31/12) is long overdue but nonetheless a welcome development.

However, as one of those who filed a lawsuit and testified in the court action against the estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos, I demand that such closure include a legal settlement that will indemnify all victims of martial law, along with an apology from the Marcos family. Also, the past must be told as it was, however unpleasant, and not be revised to suit anybody’s political agenda. Like many political observers I suspect Senator Marcos’ desire for closure is driven by his personal ambition to run for the presidency in 2016, but I hope that he will nevertheless make amends for the sufferings martial law inflicted on the nation.

I do not hold the senator personally responsible for my ordeal. As most people say, we must not blame the son for the sins of the father. Besides my view regarding his father’s legacy has changed somewhat considering that not much progress has been accomplished by his successors.

It may be noted as well that the case against the Marcos estate is not just the class action initiated by Robert Swift for his 7,000 or so clients; a direct action by individuals like our group of 21 plaintiffs (Ortigas et al. v. Marcos) was also tried in Hawaii together with Swift’s suit.

As one of the witnesses in that trial, I was shocked to learn that we individual claimants were left out of Swift’s list, even though as former political detainees we also belong to the class he supposedly represents. It seems to me that Swift did not appreciate our contribution to the victims’s winning that historic trial.

Though I praise Swift for his consistent and dogged effort, he could not have won the case all by himself and only with his list of clients. Without our direct testimonies, which conveyed to the jury the pain and agony of physical abuse and torture we went through, as well as the fear, insecurity and sorrow we felt, that case could not have achieved the desired judgment. We weathered hostile questioning in depositions and cross-examinations by Marcos’ lawyers. We made the jury see the human face of the sufferings of the victims.

I would be happy and feel vindicated if such closure could impart the following lessons: (1) Ambitious politicians must never cross the line like the one Marcos did, or they would have to answer for it in the future; and (2) Obstructing justice for human rights victims of previous regimes makes current government leaders equally liable and guilty of perpetrating the injustice.

In these times when political power is gravitating to the center and subjecting other coequal branches to undue influence, we might see a repetition of the past that ended our democratic aspirations and/or pretensions. I wish that the present generations would prevent a scenario from happening again.—RAMON G. JALIPA, ex-political detainee and individual plaintiff vs Marcos, rjalipa@gmail.com

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