|In white T-shirt (L): Fr. Francis Lucas, CMN Chairman and |
Senator Chiz Escudero at CBCP-CMN Forum.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Senate approves Senator Chiz bill on enforced disappearances
MANILA, July 27, 2011-The Senate yesterday approved Senator Chiz Escudero’s senate bill no. 2817 that penalizes perpetrators of enforced or involuntary disappearances.
The bill is also known as “an Act defining and penalizing the crime of enforced or involuntary disappearance,” which imposes a jail term of 20 to 40 years on perpetrators of involuntary disappearance.
“Involuntary disappearance refers to the deprivation of liberty committed by state authorities such as the military, police or other law enforcers or by persons or groups of persons bearing authorization or the consent and support of public officers.”
Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, explained that there is no law at present that defines and penalizes enforced disappearances, saying that at present, complaints filed against perpetrators of involuntary disappearance are lodged as kidnapping, murder or illegal detention.
“The measure, in tandem with the recently approved Anti-Torture Law, provides strong “muscle” against abuse of state power,” Escudero said, adding that the crime of involuntary disappearance is not yet considered a crime under our laws so we are endorsing this bill to institute mechanisms and to strengthen existing policies in favor of human rights.
“The enactment of the bill will guarantee that the person under detention can immediately inform his/her family, relatives, lawyer or human rights organization of his/her whereabouts and condition,” he furthered.
The proposed bill prohibits the issuances of “orders of battle” or other similar issuances by the police, military or any law enforcement agency to justify an enforced or involuntary disappearance under Section 5.
Since the administration of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, human rights advocates revealed that the rate of enforced disappearances has steadily increased.
Escudero cited the Franciscan International (FI) an organization founded by the Franciscan Order which revealed that the United Nations’ Working Group on Disappearances transmitted to the Philippine government a total of 781 cases of disappearances since it was established.
Out of the 781 documented cases, 35 have been clarified based on the information received from the source, 126 cases have been clarified based on the information received by the Philippine government while 620 cases remained unsolved.
FI said that the majority of the targets were left wing and community activists who expressed criticisms against government policies and programs, especially those related to economic, social and cultural rights, including land issues.
Karapatan, a human rights advocates revealed that there were more than 900 activists, journalists, street children, petty thieves and outspoken clergy who were victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings last 2009.
“The imposition of penalties on perpetrators of enforced disappearances would drastically reduce the number of involuntary disappearances and extra-judicial killings in the country,” Escudero believed.
Section 14 of the proposed law also states that persons who directly force, instigate, encourage or induce others to commit the act of involuntary disappearance will be meted life imprisonment.
Life imprisonment will be meted to officials who allowed involuntary disappearances or those who abetted in the consummation of enforced disappearances when it is within their power to stop or to uncover the crime. Persons who cooperated in the execution of enforced disappearances by previous or simultaneous acts will also be meted life imprisonment.
The bill stated that those who attempted to commit the crime of involuntary disappearance as well as those who assisted the offenders by destroying evidence to prevent its discovery will be subjected for imprisonment of 12 years to 20 years awaits.
Persons who defy, ignore or unduly delay compliance with any order duly issued or promulgated pursuant to the writs of habeas corpus or amparo on their respective proceedings will also be subjected to imprisonment from six to 12 years.
Senators Escudero, Villar, Defensor-Santiago and Pangilinan filed SBN 2872, consolidated version of legislative measures. (Jason de Asis)
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this blog do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of "THE CATHOLIC MEDIA NETWORK NEWS ONLINE".