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25 Years Later, Some Justice for Marcos Victims

March 01, 2011
“The Filipinos who began this case were pioneers in establishing principles of civil responsibility for massive violations of the laws of humanity,”
- Diane F. Orentlicher, an expert on international law who is deputy for war crimes issues at the U.S. State Department

The last time Nilo Olegario heard his son’s voice was in a telephone call 25 years ago, shortly before the former strongman Ferdinand Marcos fled the Philippines in the face of a “people power” uprising.

“Dad, we’ve got to hide, because they are arresting us,” Mr. Olegario said Monday, quoting his son, a member of the opposition to Mr. Marcos. “I just told him, ‘Be careful, take care of yourself.”’ But like many others during Mr. Marcos’s 20 years in power, he said, his son “just disappeared.”

On Monday, Mr. Olegario was among the first 12 victims and family members to receive compensation checks in what legal experts said was a pioneering class-action suit against the family of Mr. Marcos, who died in 1989.

Although the checks are small and although the restitution comes without apology or acknowledgment from the Marcos family, victims and legal experts said the restitution was significant because of the message it sent to the Philippines and to other nations in which abusive leaders have been forced from office.

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