Hilda Narciso (centre), a human rights victim under the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, becomes emotional as she receives a compensation cheque from lawyers. Image Credit: AFP

Manila: Twelve victims of human rights abuses under the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos yesterday received a cheque amounting to $1,000 (Dh3,670) each as compensation for their suffering.

The cheques were distributed by lawyers of the victims headed by attorney Robert Swift and assisted by officials of the Philippines' Commission on Human Rights.

Current Congressman Edcel Lagman's mother, who received the compensation for the death of her activist son Hermon, said: "The amount is small, but it represents a significant step toward transitional justice."

The funds came from a $10 million settlement of a case that was filed against individuals who were found to be fronting for land in Texas and Colorado, which was bought with the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Marcos.

An amount of $2.5 million was deducted from the fund for legal fees and other payments. Last month, Judge Manuel Real of the US District Court of Hawaii said that $7.5 million will be distributed to some 7,526 eligible recipients of the class-action lawsuit that was filed by some 10,000 rights victims against the Marcos estate in 1987.

Meanwhile, Lagman urged President Benigno Aquino to push for investigation of those responsible for human rights violations during the time of Marcos, from 1965 to 1986. "Reparation must be complemented by seeking the truth behind the abominable human rights violations [of the Marcos rule]," said Lagman.

Marcos and his family sought exile in the United States after a people-backed military mutiny in 1986. He died while in exile in 1989.

A jury had ruled that the Marcos estate must pay $2.2 billion to the rights victims. This ruling has not yet been implemented.

About 9,539 had filed the case and 2,000 of them were rejected as recipients of the compensation.