Monday, June 13, 2011

Group welcomes Senate nod on bill for the disappeared - Nation - GMA News Online - Latest Philippine News

Group welcomes Senate nod on bill for the disappeared - Nation - GMA News Online - Latest Philippine News

A human rights group welcomed over the weekend the upper chamber's nod on Senate Bill No. 2817, which seeks to punish as a crime "enforced disappearance."

"The Senate’s move is a big step toward the realization of the dream of the families of desaparecidos [victims of forced disappearance] to bring perpetrators to justice," said Wilma Q. Tizon, secretary general of the NGO Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND).

According to her, “For 16 years, the families of desaparecidos and human rights advocates have been lobbying for an anti-enforced disappearance law."

Senate Bill No. 2817 was approved in substitution of Senate Bills authored by Senators Francis Escudero, Manuel Villar, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Francis Pangilinan.

Last Wednesday, the Senate committee on justice and human rights, chaired by Escudero, approved on second reading the measure with perfecting amendments proposed by Santiago.

The bill adopts the definition of enforced disappearance under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which entered into force in December last year.

The definition considers the offense as a state-perpetrated deprivation of liberty, where the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared are concealed by the authorities.

The bill does not only impose penalties but also provides for preventive measures as well as compensation to victims and/or their families and rehabilitation of both victims and offenders.

Under the bill, “victim" refers to the disappeared person and any individual who has suffered harm as a direct result of an enforced disappearance.

Several bills seeking to criminalize enforced disappearance have been filed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives since the 9th Congress.

The House had approved the substitute bill on third and final readings in the past two Congresses but in the current 15th Congress, the six bills pending before the committee on justice are yet to be consolidated.

FIND has documented 1,820 out of the 2,160 reported cases of enforced disappearance from the Marcos regime to the present administration, which five has reported five cases. — Jerbert Briola/LBG, GMA News

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