May 28, 2013 at the House of Representatives
The ASIAN FEDERATION AGAINST ENFORCED DISAPPEARENCE (AFAD) and FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE (FIND) invited all concerned stakeholders, governmental as well as nongovernmental organizations to a roundtable discussion (RTD) on Restitution, according to the new law, the Republic Act No. 10353 known as the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012” and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). The Philippines enacted this landmark legislation as the first Asian country which aims to criminalize acts of enforced disappearance (ED).
The RTD sought to have a common understanding of the concept of restitution and the necessary operational mechanisms for its provisions as well as to exchange ideas on substantive and procedural matters. The restitution should bring some value back and acknowledge people’s heroism.
There had been activities in the past few years initiated by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Organization with the aim to honor and immortalize those people and their heroism during the Marcos dictatorship. They were designed to cater the interests of children and high school students. There are short lectures for children and more advanced methods such as orientation, museum visits and audio-video presentations for high school students.
The RTD highlighted the recognition of the people’s plight and struggle the dictatorship. These heroes died after the Marcos regime from illness brought by abduction, torture and imprisonment. Some of them are still living but already old and weak. Furthermore, the group did not exclude families and relatives of the victims and survivors of ED. The discussion pointed out “Not knowing the fate or what happened of the disappeared people is a human rights violation itself.” Thus, restitution should be done through a strong partnership among the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of Justice (DOJ), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the civil society organizations headed by FIND and AFAD.
The discussion produced next steps; (1) implement a special court; (2) creation of a technical working group with government and civil society organizations; and (3) publish research studies on how the law can help the victims and families in case of restitution.