- A Precious Gift to Humanity


- The Other Side of the Kingdom

- Convention Now!
Together Now!

- Tying the Future with the Past

- Getting Back on Track


- Still Fighting

- In Memory of the Disappeared

- The Power
 of One


- Protect All Persons From Enforced Disappearances


- Building on Nilo’s Legacy

- Filipinos Fight Against Disappearances

- Justice Suspended

- The Munir Murder - Another Case of Impunity


- FEDEFAM Statement...

- An Open Statement to the GRP and NDFP Panels ...

- Parvez Imroz’ Award...

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances

Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances



by Jennifer S. Pacursa



Filipinos Fight Against Disappearances


Slowly but (hopefully) surely. After more than ten years since House Bill 4959, the anti-enforced disappearance bill, was introduced in Congress, it has moved to the third or final reading in the House of Representatives on 1 June 2006. The 13th Congress has finally provided a concrete development in this struggle of families to define and penalize acts of involuntary disappearances.

The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances unanimously adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council considers this particular human rights violation to be the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty committed by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by the refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which places such person outside the protection of the law.


Despite the Philippine government’s then adamant stance to support the adoption of the Convention, the unceasing campaign and lobby work of the human rights community had paved the way for the anti-disappearance bill to take shape and gain support from legislators in the Lower House.

Born from the pain and grief caused by human rights violations, the bill serves as the nation’s vigilance against future administration’s dictatorial tendencies or oppressive governance. The people now are careful not to let history repeat itself.

Moreover, following the dictatorship, the United Nations Working Group recommended such legislation during its visit to the country in 1991. It emphasized the need to narrow the powers of arrest, strengthen the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights to make unannounced detention, check visits, ensure the protection of witnesses and the guarantee proper practice of habeas corpus.

HB 4959

Filipinos in Geneva protest against current human rights violations.This bill, once enacted into law, shall ensure the prohibition of enforced disappearances. It shall protect the people’s "right not to be disappeared" which shall not be suspended under any circumstances, may it be a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency.

Furthermore, the bill defines enforced disappearance as a continuing crime so long as the victims have not surfaced or the whereabouts remain unknown. It also guarantees that no order of any public authority, civilian, military or others, may be used to justify an involuntary disappearance.

Those charged of the crime of enforced disappearance as well as those proved to be accomplices to the crime shall be sentenced to reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. Reclusion temporal shall be meted upon those who attempted to commit the crime, or those who profited from the act, or those who have knowledge of the crime and concealed or destroyed evidences. More, charged perpetrators shall not benefit from any special amnesty law that will exempt them from criminal proceedings.

Passive Senate

This progress in the Lower House, however, is not matched by positive developments in the Upper House. The Senate remains unmoved by constant lobbying by non-government organizations and by victims and families of the disappeared. Senators do affirm that enforced disappearance is a crime against humanity and they recognize the existence of disappearance cases. Yet they lack concrete actions. Their passiveness continue to deny hundreds of families truth, justice and redress.

HRC member

The Philippines occupies a seat in the newly constituted Human Rights Council (HRC). As a member, it holds much responsibility in addressing issues of human rights in the country as well as protecting these rights from abuses. Much pressure is placed upon the government now as it has pledged to "continue to be sensitive to current and emerging human rights challenges." Consequently, it is expected to institutionalize the commitments it has made and further support other human rights mechanisms, one of which is the said International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. This has already been approved by consensus during the first session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland last June.

Take action

Set now against a backdrop of an environment where the number of disappearance cases are increasing, the need for the bill’s enactment into law has become even more urgent. New families have become victims of this worst crime against humanity. Joining the rest of the families of the victims of disappearances, they call upon the government to take a positive action – uphold people’s rights and protect them. Enact HB 4959. Support the Convention NOW!


 The Voice

Vol. VI No.1 November 2006

Copyright 2007  AFAD - Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
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