CA upholds decision tossing $2-billion claim of Marcos human rights victims

The Court of Appeals (CA) this week upheld its earlier decision dismissing a petition filed by a human rights group seeking an about $2 billion worth of compensation to human rights victims during the term of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

The CA’s former Twelfth Division on Wednesday, January 3 said it has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by retired Judge Priscilla Mijares, former Human Rights Commission Chairman Loretta Ann Rosales, movie director Joel Lamangan, Hilda Narciso, and Mariano Dimaranan due to lack of merit.

In its ruling on the motion for reconsideration, the CA said it found “no new or substantial matter that would warrant a reversal or modification” of its July 7, 2017 decision affirming an earlier Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) decision.

Last year, the Makati City RTC dismissed a petition seeking the enforcement of a 1995 United States district court decision which awarded human-rights victims during the late dictator’s regime $2 billion worth of compensation for damages.

The Makati City RTC’s concluded that the U.S. District Court in Hawaii was not binding because it lacks jurisdiction over the class suit docketed as Class Action No. MDL 840.

In May 1991, 10 Filipino citizens initiated MDL 840 on behalf of the 10,000 human rights victims during the late dictator’s regime. They were Celsa Hilao, Josefina Hilao Forcadilla, Arturo Revilla, Jr., Rodolfo Benosa, Danila Fuente, Renato Pineda, Adora Faye de Vera, Domiciano Amparo, Christopher Sorio, and Jose Duran.

But in its July decision, the CA said that the 10 Filipino citizens who initiated MDL 840 failed to prove that they were “truly and legally authorized by the other purported claimants.”

It also said that the Hawaii court violated the right to due process of both the unnamed claimants and the respondent Marcos estate, making the U.S. court’s decision not binding.

“It boggles the mind how the final judgment could be enforced when the supposed claimants were not even identified… it gave no opportunity for the Marcos Estate to confront each and every claimant,” the CA decision read.

It added that the classification of the claimants into three categories – torture, summary execution and disappearance victims – cannot be joined into a class suit since “no two persons can suffer the same nature and degree of injury or damage.”

The classification of claimants, the CA further noted, was an obvious recognition that “no common question of law and fact exists between/among the claimants.”

“In other words, each claimant in MDL 840 had a right, if any, only to the damage that such individual may have suffered, and not one of them had any right to or can claim any interest in the damage or injury which another suffered. Hence, MDL 840 was not and should not have been brought as a class suit,” the CA said.

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