De Lima seeks probe on PH move to delist 625 disappearances
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition senator Leila de Lima has called for a Senate probe on the government’s move to have the United Nations delist more than 600 cases of enforced and involuntary disappearances in the Philippines.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 1032, which was released to the media Wednesday, urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into the government’s call for the removal of 625 names from the list of enforced or involuntary disappearance cases from the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) records.
“There is a need to strongly reconsider this motion by the government as this is a grave injustice not only for the victims of enforced disappearances themselves, but also for their families and loved ones who have longed for the proper closure to these pending cases for the longest time,” De Lima said in a statement.
During a meeting last February in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Philippine government formally asked the UN-WGEID to delist 625 names of Filipinos from its list of enforced disappearances, which was mostly attributed to government forces, between the period 1975 and 2012.
Philippine officials, led by Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, reportedly gave assurance that the government had already put in place a strong legal framework and institutional mechanisms to deal with enforced disappearances in the country.
“Despite the passage of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, not a single state agent has been convicted and punished for carrying out enforced disappearances, which may seriously challenge the main cause and grounds cited in the Philippine government’s move to delist certain cases of enforced disappearances from the official records of the [UN WGEID],” De Lima said.
She also explained that the length of the disappearance, which is also a cited ground for the delisting by the Philippine government, is unacceptable “because the act constituting enforced disappearance is a continuing offense.”
“Despite the government’s avowed declaration for human rights, we have yet to see the end to systematic killings, abductions and enforced disappearances, mostly of activists,” the senator said.
De Lima noted that the Commission on Human Rights and several human rights group have opposed the government’s move to remove the 625 cases of enforced disappearances. /cbb
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