Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Senate approves Senator Chiz bill on enforced disappearances

In white T-shirt (L): Fr. Francis Lucas, CMN Chairman and
Senator Chiz Escudero at CBCP-CMN Forum.

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)

Abducted minor rescued by Nueva Ecija police

GUIMBA, Nueva Ecija, July 27, 2011-Police Supt. Edgar Alan Okubo, Operatives of the provincial public safety company (PPSC) chief of the Nueva Ecija police revealed that they successfully rescued a teenager from her abductor who was arrested in this town Monday. 

“The rescued minor was Donita Anne Baylon, 15 years old, high school student of Purok 1, Barangay Malapit, San Isidro town,” Okubo said.

The PPSC team conducted operation led by SPO2 Jaime Magno Jr. at around 1 in the morning, Monday at Purok 4, Barangay Kawayang Bugtong here. Baylon was rescued and her abductor was arrested who was identified as Sherwin Syegco, 25 years old, a cook, and a residence of Tinio St., Barangay San Nicolas, Gapan City.

“The successful rescue of Baylon was the result of a five-day intelligence build-up. The victim went missing last July 20, apparently when she went out of the house of her guardian Rosita Arribe shortly after the latter scolded her,” Okubo said, explaining that the victim found her way in nearby Gapan City and met Syegco in a nearby store in Barangay San Nicolas where the suspect works as a cook. The suspect, who was known to Baylon and her guardian, was able to convince the girl to go with him.

Aribe, together with her brother, barangay chairman Noel sta. Ines of Malapit, San Isidro tried to locate Baylon but to no avail. Then they were told by Joan Manrique, class adviser of Baylon, that the girl was last seen with Syegco.

Sta. Ines immediately called up Syegco asking the latter if Baylon was with him, which the suspect denied.

Sta. Ines later received information that Syegco brought the girl somewhere in Kawayan Bugtong in this town. Sta. Ines then sought the assistance of the PPSC which deployed a team to scour the area.

Sta. Ines accompanied the police team to help them identify both Syegco and Baylon.

“We have already filed charges of violations of Article 343 of the Revised Penal Code for consented abduction against Syegco,” Okubo ended. (Jason de Asis)

CBCP assures Aquino help to fight corruption

MANILA, July 26, 2011—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is with the government in its efforts to combat corruption, a Church official said.
“The Church had long been involved and continues its crusade against corruption and if the government is really serious, we can work together, said Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez.
The prelate, who heads the CBCP’s Committee on Public Affairs, said Aquino’s pronouncement against his administration’s campaign against corruption deserves the support of the public.
“He wanted to call us to participate in the fight versus corruption… That is indeed called for,” said Iñiguez.
Last Monday during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), Aquino said his fight against corruption is “personal” and should be similarly pursued by the general public.
It can be recalled that then CBCP President Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, in February 2008, had called for “communal action” against corruption in the government of then president Gloria Arroyo.
The statement of Iñiguez comes at a time when the CBCP and the government are at odds over the controversial reproductive health bill. [CBCPNews]


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