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Opinion

EDITORIAL - Change the mindset

The Philippine Star

Yesterday the Philippines became the first country in Asia to classify enforced disappearance as a criminal offense, separate from kidnapping and serious illegal detention. President Aquino signed into law Republic Act 10350, which describes enforced or involuntary disappearance as one that is perpetrated by state forces, and where information on the whereabouts of the victim is concealed or denied.

The enactment of RA 10350 is laudable, but the circumstances that led to its crafting can be sobering. Martial law left a long list of the “disappeared” across the country. The restoration of democracy in 1986, however, did not put an end to involuntary disappearances believed perpetrated by state forces. Relatives are still looking for Jonas Burgos, son of the late newspaper publisher Jose Burgos, and University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

Retired Army general Jovito Palparan has been tagged in the kidnapping, torture and disappearance of the two UP students. Palparan, openly praised by the Arroyo administration for his work in the Armed Forces, is believed to be enjoying the protection of certain military elements as he continues to evade the law.

That kind of protection bodes ill for the enforcement of RA 10350. It is often said that the country has too many laws and too little enforcement. Palparan is accused of involvement in the abduction and torture of the two UP students despite existing laws against illegal detention. RA 10350 will have to be accompanied by aggressive efforts to change the mindset of state forces in carrying out operations in the name of national security. As long as there are certain members of state forces who believe the tactics attributed to Palparan are a necessary evil in protecting the state, RA 10350 will be a toothless law.

 

vuukle comment

ARMED FORCES

JONAS BURGOS

JOSE BURGOS

JOVITO PALPARAN

KAREN EMPE

PALPARAN

PRESIDENT AQUINO

REPUBLIC ACT

RETIRED ARMY

SHERLYN CADAPAN

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES

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