Enforced disappearances could now be a thing of the past.
This comes as the House of Representatives ratified a bill late Tuesday that imposes life imprisonment against people directly involved in the crime of enforced disappearances.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the ratification of “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012” only needs President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s signature before it becomes law.
“Enforced disappearance was an atrocious tool to silence protesters and human rights advocates and continues to be employed by subsequent administrations,” Lagman said.
Lagman, whose brother Hermon became a victim of forced disappearance, noted the ratification was a culmination of more than 20 years of militant advocacy for the desaparecidos.
The lawmaker added the enactment of the bill into law will be a milestone in Asia since it will be the first national law, which will criminalize enforced disappearance as a separate or distinct offense.
Meanwhile, the Senate also ratified its own version in Senate Bill No. 2817, which state that “the crime of enforced disappearance is generally imprescriptible as an exception to the statute of limitations.”
Under the ratified version, Lagman explained offenders or convicts for violating the proposed law would not be exempted by amnesty to free themselves of any liability.
The measure also guarantees that “no war or any public emergency can justify the suspension of the enforcement of the anti-disappearance law.”
Lagman also stressed that “command responsibility makes a superior officer also culpable for violations of the law by subordinates.”
Reelectionist Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV became the last senator-elect to have his arms raised by poll officials after the May 13 elections.