Aquino set to enact law giving hope to ‘desaparecidos’


President Benigno Aquino

It will soon be a law. Abduction by the state or by its agents is a crime. The Philippines becomes the first country in Asia to define enforced disappearance as a separate criminal offense.

President Aquino is set to  sign Republic Act  No. 10350, or the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act,  in Malacañang, according to presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and the author of the bill, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman.

Lagman’s brother, Hermon, a labor leader and human rights lawyer, disappeared 34 years ago, at the height of President Ferdinand Marcos’ martial rule.

Lagman said that under the new law, enforced disappearance would be a distinct crime separate from kidnapping, serious illegal detention, murder, or any other crime.

The law says that enforced disappearance is committed when a citizen is deprived of liberty by the state or agents of the state, and when information on the whereabouts of the missing is concealed or denied.

It would also goad security officers into being better public servants who respect human rights, according to Lagman.

“The law [would] end the impunity of offenders,” Lagman said. “[I]t envisions a new or a better breed of military, police and civilian officials and employees who respect and defend the human rights and civil liberties of the people they are sworn to protect and serve and who observe the rule of law at all times.”

Lagman said the enforced disappearance law cannot be suspended even during periods of political instability, or when there is a threat of war, state of war, or any public emergency.

The families of “desaparecidos”—people seized by the state and never seen again—hailed the new law as a “timely and meaningful Christmas gift.”


Best known among the disappeared are University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, who were seized by gunmen believed to be military agents from their house in Hagonoy town, Bulacan province, on June 26, 2006, and agriculturist Jonas Joseph Burgos, seized by gunmen also believed to be soldiers from a restaurant inside a shopping mall in Quezon City on April 28, 2007.

All three were involved with Alyansa ng Magbubukid ng Bulacan (Alliance of Bulacan Farmers), a local chapter of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Farmers Movement of the Philippines).

Their parents have brought criminal charges against retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, former commander of the 7th Infantry Division based in Nueva Ecija province.

Palparan went into hiding after being ordered to stand trial by a court in Bulacan early this year.

It is not clear whether the new law could be applied to the prosecution of Palparan, who is accused of torture, rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention, maltreatment of prisoners, grave threats and coercion.


Right to truth

The law also upholds the right to truth, he said.

It requires public officers to give inquiring citizens full information about people under their custody.

It also requires investigating officials who learn that the people they are investigating are  victims of enforced disappearance to relay the information to their families, lawyers and concerned human rights groups.

The law also provides free access to the updated register of detained or confined people to those who have a legitimate interest in the data.

All detention centers must have such a register.

The new law, Lagman said, “is a comprehensive legislation that does not only impose penal sanctions, but also provides restorative justice, pecuniary compensation to victims and their families, restitution of honor, and psychosocial rehabilitation for both victims and offenders.”

In a statement, the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) welcomed the new law and described it as “a timely and meaningful Christmas gift.”


But the group said it would remain vigilant and monitor the enforcement of the new law.

The group said greater challenges may be expected, but it would wait for the promulgation of the implementation rules for the new law.

FIND said it hoped the disappearance law would not go the way of the torture law, which it described as “more honored in the breach,” meaning the torture law is not enforced, not honorably ignored than followed—the meaning of the phrase.

FIND urged Congress to monitor the enforcement of the law.

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  • buttones

    We never had a Law that says abduction by the State is a crime? I never knew that, and we are the first to define this in the whole of Asia from the Bosporus to the Bering Straits? Incredible!

    • gregory robinson

      Its already illegal for ANYONE or any GOVT to kidnap, abduct, illegal retain or delay another person without permission. This will never be enforced, its another worthless law.

      • iamdudz

        nicely said..they should create some kind of system rather than focusing on making such laws that will be hard for them to implement..

  • EdgarEdgar

    Aquino set to enact law giving hope to ‘desaparecidos’.

    At the same time, Aquino appoints as his spy chief in ISAFP a general who is implicated in the case of a desaparecido (Jonas Burgos). Congratulations to Brigadier General Eduardo Año, that’s if you get confirmed by the senate.

    Aquino’s message to Burgos family: Give it up.

  • demonYOU

    Mananatili sa papel lang yan hangga’t wala pa napaparusahan sa mga abusado sa kapangyarihan! military, cafgu, pulis at mga private army ng mga pulitikos sila ang pagtuunan ng pansin at papanagutin!

  • randyaltarejos

    This law only applies to government security forces and agents of the law. How does the law applies to armed criminals who abduct civilians and agents of the law and their whereabouts are not known anymore? Is there any other legal terminology that can substitute kidnapping?

  • charlie_oscar

    So this is a big pay-cut for NBI diba>?

  • WAJ

    This another “Job Well Done” by the President. Outstanding in all respect Sir!… 

  • Beguine

    There’s now one new law after another, and everything stays
    exactly the same as it was before!

    Major accomplishment indeed!

  • koolkid_inthehouse

    Most military top brass are PMA grads.  They have their own brotherhood.  How can any investigators get evidence if the brotherhoods will coverup? 

    • James P Mulroy

      Koolkid I think when one go’s down they will all start falling one by one.

  • Camillo

    Interesting how this law will be implemented, considering that law enforcers would have to arrest themselves.


    ayos KUNG ma-implement

  • Sonny San Juan

    Palayain si Ericson Acosta, Alan Jazmines at ilandaang political prisoners na nakabilanggo sa mga detention centers ni PNoy!
    Palabas at pabongga na naman ito hanggang hindi hinuhuli sa Jovito Palparan at hindi
    ibinabasura ang OPLAn Bayanihan at mga teroristang galamay ng Estado ni Pnoy.

  • gregory robinson

    Another worthless law that will never be enforced because it has everything to do with politics and politicians, which we know is absolutely corrupt. Hahahaha, the govt is now guilty of a crime if they kidnap someone. Isn’t this already illegal for ANYONE?? What a joke. 

  • Val Sor

    It is better to have a law like this than nothing at all.

  • regie

    eh sige ano naman ang mga elements ng crime na ito. dapat yun ang pagtuonan ng pansin kasi meron na ngang mga batas na tulad ng anti kidnapping, abitrary detentiona at marami pang iba. kasi kungdi define what comprises the activities that violates this law eh wla rin. idefine mabuti sana…

  • Fulpol

    enforced disappearance is politically motivated… kidnapping is not…

    enforced disappearance is committed by government law enforcers and defense.. kidnapping is not…

    this law is only against the gov’t defense personnel…

  • turbogirl9


  • Fulpol

    “I am with you”, BS Aquino III… to leftists, communists, rebels

    “We can trick you”, AFP personnel… to leftists, communists, rebels

    “At least we are safer”, Edcel Lagman to AFP..

  • tra6Gpeche

    Republic Act No 10350 is another good law. The worst thing that could happen is to be abducted by the people who are supposed to protect and safeguard the lives of Filipinos. The author of this law and the RH bill, Congressman Edcel Lagman of Albay, deserves recognition and praise. 

    • Magsasaka

       any good law is nothing but a statement when the institution is doing nothing to implement it, there are clear indications that military were involved in jonas burgos disappearance but the law against kidnapping, illegal detention were useless because all the institution that supposedly to uphold the law were the same agency that protects the perpetrator.

      • tra6Gpeche

        You have a good point, kabayan. However, the author of R.A. No 10350 wanted to make a law by itself. Although, every law has to be enforced to the letter by the enforcer, as you said.

  • turbogirl9


    • Magsasaka

       buhay ka pa?akala ko ba sabi mo end of the world na hehehe

  • Klepto

    Still I do not and will not trust the police and the whole judicial system. They are not worthy of trust in anyway. Like everything our politicians do, the intentions are good but the implementation and executions do not exist. In other words, as everyone knows, our politicians are only good in promises but not in action. The only action they know of is sit on their leather chairs inside an air-conditioned office from 9-5 and collect their monthly pays. That is beside hiding their loots of course.

  • Garo Ungaro

    Where’s and what is the penalty clause of this law…if found out guilty?what is the penalty and how will this be adjudicated? civil court ot military court or what?…true, this is a law by now, but appear incomplete info…is this law retro active or when its sign and inacted in law…?…

  • joerizal

     Ang labo nito. Paanong naging kakaiba ito sa mga kasalukuyang batas? Kung biglang dinampot ang kamag-anak mo, paano mo malalaman na taga-gubyerno nga ang mga yon o hindi? Kung abduction by state ang sakop ng bagong batas, eh di magha-hire na lang ang mga kriminal na taga-gubyerno ng kung sinu-sinong sibilyan para ipadampot at ipapatay ang gusto nilang idispatsa. Dapat linawin ni Lagman kung ano talaga ito at hindi yung parang may pinapasaya lang silang iilang mga tao.

    • JM Brosas

      abduction and kidnapping by anyone is already in the penal system. This law just strengthen this by extending to those done by the military and agents of the state. Kung mag-hire sila ng kriminal, eh di criminally liable ung kriminal. Kung mapatunayan na mastermind ung taga-gubyerno eh di they can invoke this law. Agents of the state can use the Human Security Act to rationalize taking people in custody. May provisions dun safeguarding human right of the accused. This law can be supplementary in cases basta ka na lang damputin ng militar et. al. This is not malabo.

      • joerizal

        Yun nga ang problema, kelan pa napatunayan na nag-mastermind ang isang taga-gubyerno? Si Lacson na-clear sa Kuratong at Dacer, si Honasan di man lang napitik nung nag-coup at pumatay. Si Palparan, hintayin mo at mawawala rin ang issue sa kanya. Epektibo lang yan kung maraming witness sa pagdampot at kilala nila ang dumampot. Pero kahit merong witness, tinatakot para manahimik. Saang bansa merong ganyang batas? Bakit hindi nila kalusin sa umpisa pa lang ang mga may utak na kriminal imbes na hihintayin pa nating pumatay sila? Yan ang problema sa batas na yan, reactive lang hindi proactive. Naintindihan ko ang mga sinabi mo pero you missed my point. Walang epekto ang batas na yan kung ang mismong mag-i-implement eh yung mga kriminal.

      • iamdudz

         i agree…maganda nga yong law kaso ang problema is how to implement, wla ring say.say yan kahit ilang law pang ilagay nila dyan…

  • virgoyap

    Why just suddenly came out? If enacted this will be a very relevant and significant law. Thanks again to Rep. Edcel Lagman for enacting laws based on his actual experience.

  • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

    I read a lot of questions from previous posts (below).

    these question rise from thinking people, and so, I feel that the level of hope for the filipinos rise every day.

    I suppose I have to read what this proposed law is all about, and hopefully, i too can shed light.


    MABUTI ito para doon sa nawawala sa mga sarili nila….mahahanap na din nila yong nawawalang sarili nila!   OK din ito doon sa mga nagwawalang walang magawa :)

    • demonYOU

       ikaw ba TSUPAeng hindi ba nawawala yung weeny sausage mo at yung mga hinahala mo na mga weenies?

  • Philcruz

    If this is enacted into law, Cong.Lagman would have another important law he  espouses to be approved under PNoy. Ironic that Lagman, one of the most ardent defenders of Gloria, would have two of his favorite bills passed into law under the administration of the man he most vociferously criticized before.

  • $37644997

    A crime is a crime regardless of incoming law that prohibits them,and why now?the crimes of yesteryears were ignored and no one came up with a solution to speak for the dead.

  • bugoybanggers

    Kaya nga dapat ipatupad na ang CITIZENS ID System, gaya ng MALAYSIA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE o buong GCC. Kasi doon mamomonitor ng bawat mamamayan kung saan o kung sino ang mga dayuhang illegal. Sa paraang iyan, madaling makita ang tao na kung siya ay dinampot o nakidnap. Sa paraang ito lahat ay masusuri ng husto. 

    • antonioluna

      pwede… :)

  • Francisco

    Pag NPA gumawa nito ligtas sila sa krimen kasi exempted sila kay Pnoy bahahaha.

  • Mattino2011

    Would it make the desaparacidos ..apparacidos.. ? 

  • Bengatibo

    Kung maging law, binabatikos, kung hindi maging law, binabatikos. Ano ba ang gusto nating mamamayan. Pati iyong mga affected Families tahimik. Wala nang tama sa ginagawa nang gobyerno.  Lahat nang comments my puntos. wait and see na lang, slowly we are going there to the right path. we have to give time to achieve what has not been achieved before. The problem with our laws is implementation, maraming mahuhusay na abogado who will always try to circumvent the laws!!!  

  • disqusted0fu

    here he goes again… Aquino just jumps on board on whatever is trending, whatever the hot issues are. but as soon as this issue goes out of the limelight, expect him to get back on noynoying mode. it would be preferable if we just see results. enough of the photo-ops, enough of the self image building, enough of the popularity contest! we just want to see good and consistent results. thats it.

  • demonYOU

    the left does not know what the right one is doing….yan ang kasabihan so sa kabila ng pagpasa ng batas na ito ay patuloy pa din nagdadalamhati ang pamilya ng mga dinukot!

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