Press Release
July 18, 2007

Jinggoy urges GMA to certify his bills as priority measures

Opposition stalwart Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada urged Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to certify as urgent bills his proposed measures to stop the enforced disappearances of activists and the protection of journalists.

Estrada said in order to prove her sincerity in solving the cases of extrajudicial killings and involuntary disappearances, Mrs. Arroyo should put priority on his proposed bills in the 14th Congress that seek to create a Magna Carta for Journalists, punish government agents involved in torture and enforces disappearances, and the create the Commission on Missing Persons. He said the Magna Carta for Journalists intends to promote the welfare of media practitioners and provide protection to journalists.

Estrada had earlier re-filed two bills in the Senate seeking the creation of the Commission on Missing Persons to stop involuntary disappearances and help find and resolve the cases of the victims of enforced disappearances or desaperacidos.

"We should make laws to ensure that the human rights of citizens are respected and protected," Estrada said.

In the recent Supreme Court-organized National Consultative Summit on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances held recently in Manila, a panel headed by SC Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing recommended a study on the creation of laws that will define extrajudicial killings and disappearances as crimes separate from murder and kidnapping.


Based on the statistics of human rights group Karapatan, the total extrajudicial killings, since Mrs. Arroyo took office in 2001, have reached 863 as of last May 15 and most of the victims are militant church workers, farmers and youths.

Some 51 journalists have been murdered since 2001 and the cases of enforced disappearances under the Arroyo administration have already reached 196.

Estrada urged Malacanang to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

French Ambassador to Manila Gerard Chesnel had recently appealed to the Philippine government to sign and ratify the international convention.

France had played a major role in the adoption on Dec. 20, 2006 of the convention by the United Nations General Assembly.

"The Arroyo Administration should support the families of missing persons and ratify the international convention and also certify the proposed bills to put more teeth on the government's fight against the killing of journalists and activists and solve the enforced disappearances," Estrada said.

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