Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Restore P2B cut to rights victims !

Joker to palace: Restore P2B cut to rights victims / Govt to increase payment for victims of martial law to P10B ??

SEN. Joker Arroyo yesterday demanded that Malacañang restore the P2 billion that it slashed from the original P10 billion allocation for human rights victims in a proposed measure that President Arroyo certified as urgent early this year.

"This is close to my cause. I want this answered," Arroyo told Cabinet officials led by Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. during a Senate briefing on the proposed P46.4 billion supplemental budget.

Arroyo said he was surprised to learn that after certifying as urgent the P10-billion measure that would benefit human rights victims, the President ordered it slashed to P8 billion. The amount would be taken from the recovered ill-gotten Marcos wealth.

The bill is pending in both chambers.

The senator said that during a committee of the whole session last January, then budget secretary Romulo Neri gave the assurance that this would be corrected and could be re-funded from the balance of P5 billion that would also be sourced from the Marcos wealth.

Andaya, however, said the P5 billion could not be realigned for the human rights victims since it was already earmarked for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

Senate finance chair Sen. Franklin Drilon said this was also his understanding. "I will confirm this, your honor," Andaya said. Arroyo, nevertheless, said he hoped that Andaya would honor the commitment made by Neri.

"I will honor it as long the Senate would approve P1 billion for the CARP this year," Andaya said. He added: "We can also increase it to P10 billion but adding P2 billion would mean subtracting from the CARP."

An irked Arroyo said the CARP beneficiaries "did not suffer, did not die" during martial law to entitle them to the lion’s share of the recovered Marcos loot.

"They were not killed and tortured. Let’s be fair," Arroyo said. – Dennis Gadil


Govt to increase payment for victims of martial law to P10B
By Ronnie E. Calumpita, Reporter

HERE’S good news for nearly 10,000 human-rights victims of martial law.

At a Senate hearing on two supplemental budgets on Tuesday, Budget Secretary Rolando Anadaya Jr. announced that the government is considering to restore to P10 billion the compensation meant for the human-rights victims under the martial rule of the late President Marcos.

The government had earlier reduced the payment from P10 to P8 billion, from the alleged P35-billion ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.

“But this will mean reducing the fund for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program,” Andaya told the Senate Committee on Finance. Sen. Joker Arroyo pointed out that the P10 billion was the original amount President Arroyo ordered for the human-rights victims.

Andaya said former Budget Secretary Romulo Neri informed the Senate Committee of the Whole at a previous hearing on the national budget that the government was restoring P2 billion for the human-rights victims.

He urged the senators to pass Senate Bill 1745 to amend Republic Act 6657, the CARP law, to expedite the compensation of the human-rights victims. The law requires all ill-gotten wealth, such the P35-billion recovered from Swiss banks, to be earmarked for the agrarian reform fund.

“He [Andaya] promised P10 billion,” Arroyo said in an interview. “Let’s see how Malacañang will react to the promise because if Mala-cañang will not react we will have to debate the restoration.”

Senate Bill 1745, authored by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Sen. Serge Osmeña 3rd, is scheduled for the next plenary deliberation.

The House of Representatives in June approved House Bill 3315, the Human Rights Compensation Act, principally authored by Akbayan Party-list Rep. Etta Rosales, that allotted P8 billion for the victims.

Rosales said she will support the P10 billion allotment in the bicameral conference.

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