Human rights victims ask CA to execute USD 1.9-B US court damage suit award

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Sept. 28 (PNA) — A group of Filipino citizens who allegedly suffered human rights abuses during the Marcos regime have asked the Court of Appeals (CA) to recognize and enforce the final judgment of the United States District Court awarding more than USD 1.9 billion in damages in their favor.

But in its Sept. 1, 2015 ruling, the CA’s Thirteenth Division, through Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro, held in abeyance its ruling on the plaintiffs-appellants’ Omnibus Motion “pending the submission by Atty. Robert Sison and by Most Law Firm to the court, within 15 days from receipt, of a written manifestation, either 1) under oath, of their respective principals who may be, but are not limited to, Rep. Imelda Romualdez-Marcos and Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. OR 2)under their lawyer’s oath under the Rules as to who, between said counsels, is the lead counsel for defendant-appellee estate of Ferdinand Marcos.”

A complaint was filed before the US District Court, District of Hawaii, against the estate of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos on May 9, 1991.

The action was brought by 10 Filipino citizens, led by Priscilla Mijares, who alleged that they suffered arbitrary detention, torture and rape in the hands of police of military forces during the regime.

The Alien Tort Act was invoked as basis for the US’ jurisdiction over the complaint, as it involved a suit by aliens for tortious violations of international law.

The complaint alleged that the class consisted of approximately 10,000 members, hence, a joinder of all these persons was impracticable.

Trial ensued, and subsequently a jury rendered a verdict and an award of damages in favor of the plaintiff class.

The US District Court, presided by Judge Manuel Real, rendered a final ruling over the case awarding the plaintiff class a total of USD 1,964,005,859.90 in February 1995.

The final judgment was eventually affirmed by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a decision on Dec. 17, 1996.

The plaintiffs-appellants filed a complaint seeking the recognition and the enforcement of the ruling in 1997.

However, the same was dismissed a quo by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) on June 25, 2013.

This prompted them to seek redress with the CA.

In the ruling, which was concurred in by Associate Justices Samuel Gaerlan and Ma. Luisa Quijano-Padilla, the CA said that “the defendant-appellee [Marcos Estate] must choose which of the two law firms is its lead counsel, and who is the collaborating counsel, if any.” (PNA)