Friday, March 4, 2011

Extra legal killings, enforced disappearances rampant | Sun.Star

Extra legal killings, enforced disappearances rampant | Sun.Star

EXTRA legal killings and enforced disappearances are rampant and remain unsolved in Eastern Visayas, according to a federation of human rights organizations working directly on the issue of involuntary disappearances in Asia.

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (Afad) research and documentation officer Darwin B. Mendiola said Thursday that from November 1985 to September 2010, at least 118 victims of extra legal killings and enforced disappearances have been documented in the region.

“The real number of extra-legal killings in the region and in other parts of the country escapes exact determination. Regardless, however, of the true body count, the mere fact that there are so many extra legal killings is by itself a cause for alarm,” Mendiola said in a forum sponsored by the University of the Philippines Visayas Tacloban College (UPVTC) in partnership with the Ateneo Human Rights Center.

Mendiola said that as of September 2010, there were 2,134 cases of disappearance documented by Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (Find), a nationwide mass organization of families, relatives, friends and colleagues of the disappeared victims and surfaced desaparecidos that advocates human rights and participative empowerment.

“The Marcos regime registered the highest number of disappearance cases with 861 followed by Aquino with 612, Ramos with 87, Estrada with 58 and Arroyo with 168,” Mendiola added.

He said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) registered the highest number of involvement in disappearance cases (1,056) followed by the defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP), 230; and paramilitary group, 236.

“Most victims of disappearance come from the basic sectors: farmers, 824; workers, 259; and youth, 143,” he said.

It was learned that since President Benigno Aquino III assumed office on June 30, 2010, eight cases of extra legal killings have already been recorded.

Meanwhile, based on the data released by Afad, Western Visayas has the most number of extra legal killings and enforced disappearances from 1985 until 2010 with 327 victims.

Other regions with the most number of extra legal killings and enforced disappearances include Northern Mindanao with 193 victims; Southern Mindanao, 181; National Capital Region, 172; and Central Luzon, 161.

Meanwhile, Find’s advocacy officer Armando Paragat said that since involuntary disappearance is not yet considered a crime under Philippine laws, cases of serious illegal detention, kidnapping and murder or a combination of the offenses are only filed in courts against the perpetrators.

“We call on our lawmakers to immediately pass anti-disappearance bills pending before the Congress. We need to have laws that clearly define and penalize the act of involuntary disappearance,” Paragat said.

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance considers enforced disappearance as the “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or group of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” (Leyte Samar Daily Express)

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