Families seek full implementation of law for desaparecidos
MANILA, Philippines – The group Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) on Thursday, August 30, lamented the lack of justice despite years of searching for accountability in the Philippines.
In a statement marking the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, FIND co-chairperson Nilda Sevilla said continuing disappearances indicate the failure of various administrations "to prevent abominable wrongdoing that violates practically all human rights."
Latest data show there are at least 1,996 documented cases of enforced disappearances in the Philippines. At least 1,165 are still missing while 244 were found dead. (READ: What you need to know about enforced disappearances in the Philippines)
From political activists, victims now usually have no affiliations but come from the poorest communities, according to FIND.
Sevilla said calling for accountability has been extremely difficult under President Rodrigo Duterte due to the "weakening of the rule of law and propensity to violence."
"As secondary victims of enforced disappearance, we believe that focusing on the criminal but glossing over the root causes of criminality and the urgency of instituting wide-ranging reforms in the criminal justice system will doom the campaign against criminality and entrench more deeply the cycle of violence," she said.
The families also called for the full implementation of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act. Signed in 2012, the law seeks to penalize with life imprisonment those found to have committed the crime. It also provides support to victims and their families through reparation.
Six years ago, the law was hailed for its comprehensiveness and for being the first of its kind in Asia. The implementation, however, has fallen short. (READ: Poor law implementation denies desaparecidos justice)
"The families of the disappeared steadfastly lobbied for the human rights legislation for 16 long years," Sevilla said. "Lamentably, the law is virtually unimplemented." – Rappler.com