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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Victims of Marcos Get Big Payout

HONOLULU --Thousands of victims of torture under the regime of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos have been awarded $766.4 million by a U.S. District Court jury.


The jury decided on the compensatory damage award Wednesday for 9,070 victims who filed a class-action lawsuit.


Now the lawyers face the task of trying to collect the money from the late dictator's estate, which is worth an estimated $1.4 billion. The Philippine government claims the money in the estate was looted from the national treasury.


"We come first on collecting," said Sherry Broder, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. "We have a judgment and they do not."


Robert Swift, another attorney for the plaintiffs, said he and Broder are willing to negotiate with the government. "I think a just government will not deny torture victims compensation," he said.


The government's chief lawyer said Thursday it is prepared to share Marcos' wealth with his victims -- as long as it gets its share first.


"We have always been open to them," Solicitor General Raul Goco said, but added that the government should not be deprived "of what it receives or has already claimed."


Bill Johnson, lawyer for the Marcos estate, said he would appeal the award.


Marcos and his family fled the Philippines in 1986, and he died three years later while in exile in Hawaii.


In 1993, the federal jury found the Marcos estate liable for the torture, execution and disappearance of thousands of Filipinos under Marcos' rule between 1972 and 1986. The jury then decided on $1.2 billion in punitive damages.


The compensatory award for pain, suffering and loss of earning power was based on a close examination of the complaints of 137 plaintiffs selected at random. Court-appointed master Sol Schreiber questioned the victims and verified all but six of the complaints.


In one case, for example, Schreiber recommended that $129,533 be awarded to the family of Bartolome Alcantara, who was shot and killed Feb. 19, 1981, in front of his pregnant wife, while he held a child in his arms.