CA junks $2-billion claim of Marcos human rights victims

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has junked the petition of a group seeking the enforcement of a 1995 United States district court decision awarding the supposed human rights victims during the term of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos of about $2 billion worth of compensation.

In its July 7 decision, the CA’s 12th Division upheld the earlier decision of Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) which dismissed the case seeking the enforcement of the foreign ruling.

The petition was filed by a group led by retired Judge Priscilla Mijares, Former Human Rights Commission Chairman Loreta Ann Rosales, movie director Joel Lamangan, Hilda Narciso, and Mariano Dimaranan.

The CA decision, penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, affirmed the RTC’s decision which concluded that the ruling of 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.

“Rules of comity should not be made to prevail over our Constitution and we cannot allow foreign impositions to trample upon our sovereignty,” the CA stated.

In its decision, the appellate court said the Hawaii court violated the right to due process of all the unnamed claimants as well as the respondent Marcos estate.

It also noted that the 10 Filipino citizens who initiated MDL 840 failed to prove that they were “truly and legally authorized by the other purported 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.

The claimants, who filed the class suit before the U.S. district court on May 9, 1991, are 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.

“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.

The CA further noted 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.”

“All told, the Final Judgment of the Hawaii Court, being null and void for want of jurisdiction, may not be enforced,” the CA said.



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