Statement of the Commission on Human Rights supporting the House Bill increasing financial compensation for victims of rape and other violent crimes

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights supporting the House Bill increasing financial compensation for victims of rape and other violent crimes

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expresses its support for House Bill (HB) No. 5029, which aims to increase the financial compensation given to victims of rape; those unjustly accused and imprisoned; arbitrarily or illegally detained; and other violent crimes.

HB 5029 is a proposed amendment to Republic Act No. 7309—the law that created the Board of Claims, under the Department of Justice, which instituted the Victims Compensation Program (VCP). Through VCP, victims or their surviving next of kin can claim monetary reparation for grave human rights violations, such as “rape and crimes committed with malice which resulted in death or serious physical and/or psychological injuries, permanent incapacity or disability, insanity, abortion, serious trauma, or committed with torture, cruelty or barbarity.”

For over three decades, the compensation ceiling has been at PHP10,000.

The new bill’s author, Quezon City Fourth District Representative Marvin Rillo, noted that the aforementioned amount is no longer sufficient given today’s inflation values.

CHR welcomes the proposed 500 percent increase of the original reparation. Under the newly filed bill, rape victims may claim as much as PHP50,000. While victims of illegal detention can claim up to PHP100,000 per year of incarceration.

While the Commission maintains that no amount of money can measure the worth of any person, HB 5029 affirms the State’s obligations to uphold the right to an effective remedy and the right to compensation in line with an array of human rights treaties and conventions, including, among others, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In the context of transitional justice, reparations can also be regarded as acknowledgement that violations have indeed been done and that appropriate redress measures are being sought, especially if violation of rights is caused by the State. Financial compensation likewise empowers victims to pursue legal action or allows them to receive reimbursement for any other losses they may have incurred.

CHR acknowledges that the bill is also a positive step in realising the government’s obligation under the 1987 Constitution to value every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights.

CHR looks forward to the passage of HB 5029 into law. As we call for stronger accountability mechanisms from the government, may this action also help bring victims a sense of justice and an opportunity to reclaim their dignity and agency over their lives. ###