Lawmakers file bill for persons displaced due to internal armed conflict PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 November 2010 16:11

The Philippines ranks third after Burma and Indonesia in the list of countries in Southeast Asia with the most number of people displaced by internal armed conflict.

Citing data from the United Nations, Abante Mindanao Inc. party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez said the country is also among the top 40 nations all over the world where internal displacement is considered a significant phenomenon.

"After the breakdown of the Mindanao peace process during August and September 2008, a new round of armed conflict began. The United Nations claims that around 500,000 persons --Christians and Muslims-- including at least 300,000 infants and children were displaced from their homes without the basic necessities of life," he noted.

To protect the displaced people, Rodriguez, together with his brother Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, urged the government to strengthen the country's human rights laws and to focus on the guiding principles on internal displacement set forth by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR).

They authored House Bill no. 48, to be known as the "Internal Displacement Act of 2010," to improve Philippine commitment to human rights protection by providing the necessary mechanisms on the prevention of occurrence and the protection of internally displaced people (IDPs) from the adverse effects of armed conflicts.

Under the measure, rights of persons during displacement, regardless of the circumstances and without discrimination, shall include access to essential and adequate food and nutrition and potable water, basic shelter and housing, appropriate clothing and essential medical and dental services and sanitation including psychological and social services, essential drugs and medicines.

"Internally displaced persons shall not be detained or confined to a camp. If in exceptional circumstances such confinement is necessary, it shall not last longer than required by the circumstances, as may be determined by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)," the party-list solon said.

Displaced persons shall be protected against discriminatory practices of recruitment into any armed forces or groups, they shall have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his or her residence, to seek employment and participate in community affairs, to be protected against torture, rape and slavery and to leave the country are among their other rights, he added.

Rodriguez said the measure provides that the military and law enforcement agencies conducting operations, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DoH), corresponding government hospitals and concerned local government units (LGUs) to provide immediate relief and humanitarian assistance to IDPs, families and communities.

The bill also provides that 20 years imprisonment shall be imposed to those found to be in violation of the provisions stated in Section 10 of HB 48.

The proposed measure further provides that where death of a victim occurs in the course of a military or police operation, the amount of P50,000 shall be granted to the legal heirs of the victim by way of a death benefit by law enforcement agencies, the DSWD and LGU concerned.

Where loss or damage to property is caused in the course of the military or police operation, the corresponding fair market value of the property lost or damaged which ever is higher shall be paid to the victim.

Rodriguez said the amount necessary for the initial implementation of this Act shall be charged against the current year's budget of the CHR, DSWD, Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the National Disaster Coordinating Council.