The recent US Supreme Court decision on the Arelma case was unfavorable to the Marcos human rights victims. It basically accepted the Philippine government’s argument that the Hawaii court erred in allowing 9,539 human rights victims to file a suit to recover the $35-million Merrill-Lynch funds. It called for the case to first be tried in the Philippines before American courts try it.
In so doing, it upheld the archaic argument for the sovereign immunity of states over the more internationally-accepted principle of superiority of human rights over an individual state’s sovereignty. The latter has been the growing international consensus, particularly when the International Criminal Court (ICC) came into being.
Whatever, the irony here is the fact that both the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and the Madame Imelda Marcos are dancing the jig–both claim to have won in the US Supreme Court. Twenty-two years after EDSA I, the Arroyo government and the Marcoses are on the same side once again. No wonder, the government–after Heidi Yorac died–kept on losing and the Marcoses kept on winning their cases.
What we witness today is worst-kept secret of the Arroyo administration’s agreement with the Marcoses on the handling of the plundered Marcos wealth. Since the days of the Garcillano tapes and the first impeachment attempt, there has been a relaxation of relations between Malacañang, the PCGG and the Marcoses. We witnessed a PCGG commissioner’s dancing and beso-beso with Imelda during her birthday. We witnessed the brazen attempts of the Marcoses to get back their supposed PLDT shares and other sequestered properties. Then, there were the string of losing PCGG cases. The inevitable question is: who gets the commission?
At the other end of the scale, we are witness to an eight-year blockage of the human rights compensation bill by Arroyo’s Malacañang and its incessant fight abroad against attempts of the human rights victims to get at least part of the Marcos money for their successful judgment in the Hawaii human rights class suit. This administration, known for its extrajudicial killings and disappearances approaching that of the times of Marcos, has the same predilection for flaunting constitutional and human rights standards.
As it slips into its sunset moments, the Arroyo administration is ripe for judgment by the people. BY this latest affair, only major initiatives in relation to the Marcos human rights victims can deflect the coming condemnation of the Arroyo’s stint in the country’s politics.