CA paves way for hearings on $1.9-B award to Martial Law victims

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals has paved the way for hearings on the petition to enforce the $1.9-billion award to human rights victims of the Marcos regime granted by a US court in 1995.

The CA's Special 13th Division dismissed the motion of the Marcos family to seek an extension on the filing of a petition to reverse the orders of Makati Regional Trial Branch 134 Judge Elpidio Calis, in relation to the enforcement case last year.

In May and August 2016, Calis junked the petitions of the Marcos family to dismiss the enforcement petition filed by the claimants, among them former Human Rights commissioner Etta Rosales and film director Joel Lamangan.

The Marcoses were given 60 days or until October 2016 to dispute the orders, but failed to do so.  

The CA said the petitioners argued that "due to other urgent professional work including the preparation for the certiorari petitions filed before the Supreme Court questioning the burial of former President Marcos, petitioners were unable to prepare their petition."

The Marcoses sought a 30-day extension, but the Makati court rejected it. The family then sought a reversal of the court order before the CA.

In denying the Marcoses' motion for an extension to file the petition, the CA said "we see no reason to relax the application of rules in this case."

“As it stands now, parties are only given an unextendible 60-day period from notice of judgment or from notice of denial of their motion for reconsideration within which to file a petition for certiorari,” the CA explained.

On February 3, 1995, a US court rendered the final judgment to grant $1.964 billion in damages to human rights victims of the Marcos regime, a decision affirmed by the US Court of Appeals on December 17, 1996.

Under the Philippines' Rules of Court, however, a foreign court judgment is only enforceable once a case has been filed with Philippine courts. 

There is another compensations claim pending before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan, filed by human rights victims who are asking the court to forfeit in their favor part of the Marcos family’s art collection.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.