Philippines: Congress must pass bill banning enforced disappearances Satur

May. 12, 2007

MANILA — House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur C. Ocampo today
urged Congress to immediately pass a bill banning and penalizing the
crime of enforced disappearances.

Ocampo made the call as the family of desaparecido Jonas Burgos
continued to press the Arroyo government to surface the farmers’
advocate and son of press freedom icon Joe Burgos. The Burgos family
has blamed the military over the abduction and has asked prominent
personalities for support.

Burgos is the 201st desaparecido under the Arroyo government.

HB 4959, which is authored by Ocampo, criminalizes involuntary
disappearances has been passed by the House but remains pending in the
Senate. Senators Ralph Recto, Francis Pangilinan and Jinggoy Estrada
filed separate Senate versions of the measure.

Ocampo stressed that that such law is much needed to provide a legal
framework that would put stiff penalties on those proven guilty as
perpetrators, accessories or even witnesses who refuse to inform the
victim’s relatives or the authorities.

Despite being considered a “crime against humanity” by international
laws, involuntary disappearances are not covered by the Revised Penal
Code, notes Ocampo.

The bill also seeks compensation to families of victims. Lifetime
imprisonment awaits those who will be proven guilty of the crime.

The bill distinguishes the crime as an offense mostly by agents of the
government or commissioned private individuals, explaining that in
past administrations, enforced disappearance is a part of a state
policy mainly against dissenters.

Other bills Bayan Muna hopes to push through the legislative mill in
the next Congress are: the Anti-Torture Bill; the Philippine Human
Rights Code; the Marcos Victims Compensation Act; Freedom of
Information Act;

The Child Nutrition Law; Student Entitlements Act; mandatory health
insurance for senior citizens; mandatory life insurance for Filipino

Private School Fee Regulation Act; Free and Open Source Software Act;
and a Mobile Phone Subscribers Protection Act; bills renationalizing
Petron and instituting centralized procurement of oil products; and
the Marcos Martial Law Regime Debt Cancellation Act. ###

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