Calida rebuffs Robredo over compensation for HR victims

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Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday denounced Vice President Leni Robredo’s statements regarding the order of a United States court ordering payment of compensation to human rights victims during martial law.

“Her statements are outright lies. She must be confused,” Calida said. “Her statements demean and belittle the work the OSG and its lawyers have been doing for decades to recover ill-gotten wealth. We have always been committed to advancing the interests of the Republic, and we will continue to do so.”

“The OSG has always maintained, even before I became Solicitor General, that the cases of ill-gotten wealth should be litigated before the Sandiganbayan, and not before the US courts,” the solicitor general explained.

According to the Solicitor General, the Republic of the Philippines has continuously opposed participating in the US case because to do so would mean waiving its sovereign immunity.

Previously, the OSG and the Department of Justice rejected the proposed settlement agreement in the New York court case because it was grossly disadvantageous to the Republic and illegal under Philippine law.

The Republic would get only $4 million from the settlement. Furthermore, the proposed settlement required that the Philippine government grant immunity to Vilma Bautista and move to dismiss the cases against her in the Sandiganbayan.

“The government cannot grant immunity to Vilma Bautista. She is a principal defendant in a case currently pending before the Sandiganbayan. The authority of the PCGG to grant such immunity is limited only to a witness who can provide material and relevant information or testify against a defendant in an ill-gotten wealth case,” Calida said.

“Even the human rights claimants will get the wrong end of the deal in the case. Their lawyer Robert Swift has sought a hefty $4.125 million in attorney’s fees out of the $13.75 million, while the rest would be divided among the 6,500 claimants, who will receive a measly $1,500 each,” Calida said. “How in the world can you say that is fair or just?”

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