In a statement, CHR chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales welcomes the AFP’s shift to “human rights-based paradigm from militarist solutions” and expressed confidence that state security reforms will lead to respect for human rights.
“That has yet to be seen. Policies that cause human rights violations are still there. They should first prove that they have the political will to punish perpetrators of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings,” JL said.
Mrs Burgos challenged the new administration: “We appeal to President Noynoy Aquino. You have always pronounced that the rule of law must prevail. As Commander-in-Chief, it is time to show the military that you will never condone any wrongdoing. Mr. President, the military must be the first to follow the ‘tuwid na daan’ (righteous path).”
Criminalize Enforced Disappearances
Desaparecidos reiterated its call for the passage of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance bill, seeking to criminalize enforced disappearances.
In the absence of a law punishing perpetrators of enforced disappearances, Baliaga, if found guilty, would be charged with kidnapping.
Portajada explained: “Kidnapping is illegally seizing a person by force and against his will; it also involves the use of ransom for the surfacing of the illegally detained person. This eliminates the political motive of the state forces to disappear a person. While with enforced disappearance, a person is disappeared for political reasons by state security forces; thus both state security forces and the commander in chief will be held responsible. This would mean that even former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo can be held liable for Jonas’s disappearance and even that of other victims.”
Desaparecidos also said there are still a number of similar cases pending before the Supreme Court, citing the cases of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, the two missing University of the Philippines students, Romulo Robiños and Leo Velasco among others. “We are hoping that the respective courts and government agencies follow suit and come out with favorable responses on the said cases,” she said.