Bill seeks to prevent execution, abduction of journalist-A A +A
Monday, August 20, 2012
A LAWMAKER urged Monday the House committee on justice to expedite deliberations on a bill imposing life imprisonment for the crimes of extralegal killing and enforced disappearance, victims of which include members of media.
"The Supreme Court itself noted that there has yet to be a law passed by Congress defining extra-judicial killing and enforced disappearance," said Iloilo Representative Jerry Treñas, principal author of House Bill 3594, or the "Anti-Extralegal Killing and Enforced Disappearance Law."
The bill is pending action of the House committee on justice chaired by his province-mate Iloilo Representative Niel Tupas Jr.
Treñas cited the opinion of the High Tribunal, which states that, "as the law now stands, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in this jurisdiction are not crimes penalized separately from the component criminal acts undertaken to carry out these killings and enforced disappearance and are now penalized under the Revised Penal Code and special laws."
"The simple reason is that the Legislature has not spoken on the matter: the determination of what acts are criminal and what the corresponding penalty these criminal acts should carry are matters of substantive law that only the Legislature has the power to enact," it added.
Treñas, chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability, said the proposed statute seeks to prevent the "execution and abduction of members of media."
He also pointed out that based on the spate of extralegal killings and enforced disappearances reported nationwide, it is obvious that these crimes were committed because of political considerations or motives.
"Hence, a political motive should be the gauge that would determine whether the act committed is beyond the regular felonies contained in the Revised Penal code," Treñas said.
He said that on September 2007, the high tribunal approved the Rule on the Writ of Amparo, which is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security has been violated or is threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.
"Even with the Writ of Amparo that covers both existing killings and enforced disappearance or threats thereof, it alone cannot abate the commission of these heinous crimes. The High Court crafted the said rule only as a remedial measure. A substantive law is necessary in order to prosecute these crimes," Treñas said.
"The Philippines already has a humiliating reputation of being one of the most dangerous countries for journalists," he said.
Treñas said the bill shall create a legal presumption that the execution or abduction of a member of the media was committed with a political motive.
"Unless proven otherwise, the abduction or execution of a journalist shall be considered as a crime of extralegal killing or enforced disappearance," Treñas said.
Last Sunday, media groups marked the 1,000th day since the gruesome Maguindanao massacre, which killed 58 persons, 32 of them were media workers.
Several Ampatuan clan members are now in jail and undergoing trial but hundreds of their men who took part in the slaughter remain at large. (PR/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)