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Gov’t hopes to end ‘disappearances’


03:29 AM February 18th, 2013

February 18th, 2013 03:29 AM

Families of the disappeared release balloons on Nov. 2, 2012, at the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido outside Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, Parañaque City. A month after the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act went into effect on Jan. 13, 2013, the government has promulgated the Implementing Rules and Regulations, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. PHOTO BY JAYMEE GAMIL

MANILA, Philippines—To stop people simply disappearing into thin air, the government is now required to maintain an up-to-date registry of persons under detention and to regularly submit a list of detainees beginning in six months.

This is one of the requirements of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10353, or the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act, which was signed by President Aquino in December last year and went into effect on Jan. 13, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

De Lima led the promulgation last week of the IRR, which was completed in “record” time, or a month after the law went into effect.

The IRR will guide government agencies “on how to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of victims of enforced disappearance,” according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

The 18-page IRR states that detainees have a right to immediately access communication, to medical care and rehabilitation, to restitution of honor and reputation, as well as to seek and be awarded compensation (of not less than P10,000) for the victim and his relatives to the fourth degree.

The rules also require government agencies, including the police and military, to immediately reply in writing to a person or group inquiring about a disappeared person.

State prosecutors and judicial or quasijudicial officers and employees are also required to inform the family if a person brought for inquest is a victim of involuntary disappearance.

The rules also call for the maintenance of an official up-to-date register of all persons under detention or confinement, who shall be held in “officially recognized and controlled places of detention or confinement.”

The register should include the name of the detainee and description and the date, time and location where they were picked up, as well as the authority and reason behind the deprivation of liberty.

The victims’ families, lawyers, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and interested parties shall have access to the registers.

“The registry shall be available to the public (or those persons with legitimate interest),” the IRR states.

The information in the registers shall be reported to CHR regional offices twice a month—within the first five days and in the middle of the month.—Christine O. Avendaño

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