Party-lists urge Aquino to pass anti-enforced disappearance bill-A A +A
Saturday, September 1, 2012
ANGELES CITY -- Anakpawis party-list Representative Rafael Mariano and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio called on President Benigno Aquino III to issue a marching order to Congress to pass House Bill 3046 or the anti-enforced disappearance bill which seeks to define and penalize the crime of involuntary disappearance.
The two militant legislators’ call came in time with the observation of the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30 which was mandated by the United Nations as a day created to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places and under poor conditions unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives.
Sister Cecille Ruiz of the human rights group Karapatan Central Luzon said that “in the Philippines however, the weight that that families of victims carry heavily is the prospect that the hope they have been holding on for long dims for each passing day that they receive no information to their missing kin and they feel none of the efforts if there is at all on the part of the government to address it.”
Ruiz said three of the most documented cases of disappearance are those of University of the Philippines students Shirley Cadapan and Karen Empeno, and Jason Burgos who is a son of the late freedom of the press icon Jose Burgos.
Up to this moment, families and kin of the three are still searching for them.
An Anakpawis statement released for the observance of the international day said that since Aquino became President from July 2010 to June 2012, a total of 11 enforced disappearances were documented by the human rights watchdog Karapatan.
Out of the 11 victims of disappearances, majority were farmers. Four of the victims came from Negros namely Devero, Michael Celeste, Gerard Abale and Novito Gabriel, while three victims are from Southern Tagalog namely Felix Balaston, Alfredo Bucal of Batangas, and Likis Sayto from Mindoro Occidental.
Meanwhile, on the eve of the international day, relatives of victims of enforced disappearances trooped to the House of Representatives and urged the Aquino administration to pass the anti-enforced disappearance bill.
“We appeal to President Aquino to order the military to surface our husbands. And as we continue to search for our loved ones, we call on the President to stop the continuing enforced disappearances in the country,” they said in a joint statement.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on September 01, 2012.