Hope for the disappeared-A A +A
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
ON 12 February 2013, about two months after its enactment in December last year, the interagency committee on Republic Act (RA) No. 10353 or the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act” has finally promulgated the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
The committee in-charge of the IRR is composed of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), and Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos).
The release of the IRR comes with the optimism of families of desaparecidos including the concerned national government agencies for justice (at least for it to impede on or further discourage enforced disappearances).
The DOJ and its partner government agencies see the IRR as the guide on how to promote, protect, and fulfill the rights of the victims of enforced disappearances. These, according to the DOJ, include the right of a person deprived of liberty to immediately access effective communication; the right to restitution of honor and reputation of a victim of enforced disappearance; the right of the victims, namely, the disappeared and his or her immediate relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, to seek and be awarded compensation by the Board of Claims; and the right of the said victims to access appropriate medical care and rehabilitation.
The CHR shall, within six (6) months from the effectivity of the IRR, convene the DSWD, Department of Health (DOH) and other non government organizations to formulate a comprehensive rehabilitation program that will cater to the specific needs and requirements of the victims under the law.
It is just unfortunate, however, that while government agencies work on the protection and rehabilitation of families of the disappeared, the government’s armed forces which are expected to be frontline safeguards, have been tagged or involved in such disappearances; a claim that without fail has been denied by the military.
Who is not familiar with retired army officer Jovito Palparan and the story of the two UP students? Who has not heard of the disappearances of James Balao, Jonas Burgos, and many others who went on missing?
The Martial Law era where enforced disappearances have been popular is over and this country is waiting for a change, for justice, for the disappeared to surface.
Just like the families of the desaparecidos and all groups seeking justice for the disappeared, for me, RA 10353 is a streak of hope. It is a promise that pains, sufferings, and longings will soon be comforted by this measure from the state.
Going over the IRR makes me think that again, our lawmakers have made a good law. But this also makes me think that a law will only be as good as its implementation.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 27, 2013.