Philippines to enact law on enforced disappearance

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - It will soon be a law. Abduction by the state or by its agents is a crime. The Philippines becomes the first country in Asia to define enforced disappearance as a separate criminal offence.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III is set to sign Republic Act No. 10350, or the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act, according to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and the author of the bill, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

Lagman's brother, Hermon, a labour leader and human rights lawyer, disappeared 34 years ago, at the height of President Ferdinand Marcos' martial rule.

Lagman said that under the new law, enforced disappearance would be a distinct crime separate from kidnapping, serious illegal detention, murder, or any other crime.

The law says that enforced disappearance is committed when a citizen is deprived of liberty by the state or agents of the state, and when information on the whereabouts of the missing is concealed or denied.

It would also goad security officers into being better public servants who respect human rights, according to Lagman.

"The law [would] end the impunity of offenders," Lagman said. "[I]t envisions a new or a better breed of military, police and civilian officials and employees who respect and defend the human rights and civil liberties of the people they are sworn to protect and serve and who observe the rule of law at all times."

Lagman said the enforced disappearance law cannot be suspended even during periods of political instability, or when there is a threat of war, state of war, or any public emergency.

The families of "desaparecidos"-people seized by the state and never seen again-hailed the new law as a "timely and meaningful Christmas gift."

Exemplars

Best known among the disappeared are University of the Philippines students Karen Empe?o and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were seized by gunmen believed to be military agents from their house in Hagonoy town, Bulacan province, on June 26, 2006, and agriculturist Jonas Joseph Burgos, seized by gunmen also believed to be soldiers from a restaurant inside a shopping mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007.

All three were involved with Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Bulacan (Alliance of Bulacan Farmers), a local chapter of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Farmers Movement of the Philippines).

Their parents have brought criminal charges against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, former commander of the 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija province.

Palparan went into hiding after being ordered to stand trial by a court in Bulacan early this year.

It is not clear whether the new law could be applied to the prosecution of Palparan, who is accused of torture, rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention, maltreatment of prisoners, grave threats and coercion.

Right to truth

The law also upholds the right to truth, he said.

It requires public officers to give inquiring citizens full information about people under their custody.

It also requires investigating officials who learn that the people they are investigating are victims of enforced disappearance to relay the information to their families, lawyers and concerned human rights groups.

The law also provides free access to the updated register of detained or confined people to those who have a legitimate interest in the data.

All detention centres must have such a register.

The new law, Lagman said, "is a comprehensive legislation that does not only impose penal sanctions, but also provides restorative justice, pecuniary compensation to victims and their families, restitution of honour, and psychosocial rehabilitation for both victims and offenders."

In a statement, the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) welcomed the new law and described it as "a timely and meaningful Christmas gift."

Monitoring

But the group said it would remain vigilant and monitor the enforcement of the new law.

The group said greater challenges may be expected, but it would wait for the promulgation of the implementation rules for the new law.

FIND said it hoped the disappearance law would not go the way of the torture law, which it described as "more honoured in the breach," meaning the torture law is not enforced, not honourably ignored than followed-the meaning of the phrase.

FIND urged Congress to monitor the enforcement of the law.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dispute
    Philippines seeks stronger commitment from U.S. in South China Sea dispute

    The Philippines is seeking a "stronger commitment" from the United States to help its ally, the defence minister said on Monday, as China asserts its sovereignty over disputed areas of the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims. China said on Monday it had lodged a complaint with the United States over a U.S. spy plane that flew …

  • Aquino: Philippines to fly usual routes over disputed reefs

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine aircraft will continue to fly their usual routes over disputed reefs in the South China Sea, the country's president said Monday, defying China's challenges to its planes and those of the United States. …

  • Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino
    Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Chinese warnings over the airspace, President Benigno Aquino said on Monday. "We will still fly the routes that we fly based on the international law from the various conventions we entered into," Aquino told reporters when asked whether the Philippines accepted China's position. The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane away from airspace …

  • Mitsubishi reaches out to far-flung Batad community
    Mitsubishi reaches out to far-flung Batad community

    A “Dadbod” is a newly coined term now trending in media. It was introduced to the world by Clemson University sophomore Mackenzie Pearson as she refers to any man—father or bachelor—with a physique that’s a “nice balance between a beer gut and working out.” “It’s more human, natural, and attractive,” she adds. For this writer, […] The post Mitsubishi reaches out to far-flung Batad community appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • A weekend of premium cars
    A weekend of premium cars

    Good news to all luxury car fanatics as PGA Cars, the exclusive importer and distributor of Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley cars in the country, will be holding the PGA Cars Premium Festival from May 29 to May 31 at the PGA Center in Global City in Taguig. The 3-day event will showcase PGA’s latest […] The post A weekend of premium cars appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda
    APEC ministers to endorse Boracay Action Agenda

    Trade ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Boracay, Aklan agreed yesterday to endorse the proposed Boracay Action Agenda to the member countries’ leaders, presenting opportunities for global trade for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). In a press conference following the conclusion of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, who also served as chairman, said ministers agreed to recommend the adoption of the …

  • Talks with China over sea row urged
    Talks with China over sea row urged

    The Philippines should engage China in bilateral talks in its efforts to maintain peace and order at the disputed West Philippine Sea, Sen. Francis Escudero said yesterday. Escudero supports the government’s move to bring the issue before international arbitration but also stressed the need for the Philippines to pursue talks with China. Escudero made the statement after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. …

  • House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills
    House panel tackles bill on regular disaster drills

    The House committee on national defense is deliberating on a measure mandating the regular conduct of disaster risk reduction drills in educational institutions nationwide. Authored by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., the bill mandates that risk reduction drills be held annually in all educational institutions throughout the country in coordination with the schools’ respective local government units. “The Philippines’ location along the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options