Families of Desaparecidos for Justice welcomed the passage of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance bill by both the Senate and Congress and urged President Noynoy Aquino to immediately sign it into law. “A door opens for us, families of the disappeared, in seeking justice for our missing love ones,” Mary Guy Portajada, Desaparecidos secretary general said. “The President should not wait a minute longer in enacting this bill into law.”
In pushing for the immediate signing of the bill, the group stated the urgency for the Aquino government to punish military perpetrators. “With this law, we challenge the Noynoy government to arrest, prosecute and punish Palparan and Arroyo et al for the crime of enforced disappearance,” Portajada stated.
Under Gloria Arroyo’s regime, 206 individuals were documented missing by Karapatan. Many of them were committed under the command of GMA’s favorite General, Jovito Palparan.
The group however, pointed out that it will still take a long time before the practice of enforced disappearances will end in the country. “It remains to be seen if the bill will have its teeth against the deeply rooted state violence and impunity in the armed forces,” Portajada declared.
“The law may lessen disappearances but while a state policy like Oplan Bayanihan is still being implemented, disappearances will not completely stop,” Portajada said. Karapatan has documented 12 cases of enforced disappearances under the Aquino regime.
The group also pushed for the Philippine government to also ratify the United Nations International Convention for the Protection of Persons against Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. On October 30, 2011, the Convention was finally enforced but the Philippine government failed to ratify it. “It will be a year now since the enforcement of the Convention, and it is an opportune time for the Aquino government to ratify this international document.” Portajada stated. “While the Anti-Enforced Disappearance law will punish perpetrators in the country, the Convention ensures that the State are held responsible for the abduction and disappearance of its citizens.”
“While we gain triumph in the passage of this bill, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice recognize that it will take a long time before we will see the last of enforced disappearances. We vow to remain vigilant in our pursuit to end enforced disappearances and to actually bring government agents with bloodied hands to justice,” the group concluded. ###
Reference: Lorena ‘Aya’ Santos, Deputy Secretary General Contact Number: 09175230396 Download Anti-Enforced Disappearance bill