A MEANINGFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT
The families of victims of enforced or involuntary disappearance welcome Republic Act 10350 or the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012” and consider it as a timely and meaningful Christmas gift to them.
We are truly grateful to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for finally signing the bill into law yesterday, the principal authors specially FIND’s Honorary Chairperson Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, the House of Representatives for approving it on third and final reading in the last three consecutive Congresses, the Senate for passing it ahead of the House in the 15th Congress, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for consistently endorsing the measure since she was Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, the Philippine Supreme Court for spearheading the National Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances in 2007 and for specifying the involvement of state agents in the commission of these offenses, and all those who supported the measure and recommended its signing to the President, more particularly our colleagues in the human rights community.
After the 16-year uphill battle of pursuing its enactment into law, we now face greater challenges in responsibly promulgating the Act’s Implementing Rules and Regulations jointly with the Department of Justice, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Commission on Human Rights and the Desaparecidos in consultation with other human rights organizations as provided under Section 28 of the law.
Having learned lessons from the implementation or non-implementation of R.A. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act of 2009), we are determined to be more vigilant, proactive and to comply with the law’s mandate to help “ensure the full dissemination” of the anti-enforced disappearance law and its implementing guidelines to the public, more particularly to its principal implementers.
We demand concrete and meaningful justice including reparation to all desaparecidosand their families. Thus, we commit to do our best to eschew any attempt to dilute, weaken or reduce the Act into a mere paper law.
We also urge Congress to exercise its oversight function to monitor and ensure compliance with the law.
We are aware, however, that compliance with the law alone does not guarantee non-repetition of the offense or the end of enforced disappearances. The commission of enforced disappearance will not stop unless the social structures that breed poverty, ignorance, and exploitation remain unchanged. These conditions that give rise to political dissent and mass protest must be reformed, if not eradicated, as the political activists who clamor for or initiate change are likely to be silenced, immobilized and eventually eliminated from the political arena through unabated enforced disappearances.
We need genuine societal change even as we enforce laws that hold human rights violators accountable for their offenses.
NILDA L. SEVILLA
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