Press Release
November 14, 2009


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday reminded government to resolve hundreds of cases of human rights violations that have cropped up in the last eight years, particularly now that the Anti-Torture Bill (Republic Act 9745) has been signed into law.

"This development is a significant milestone in our efforts to address this country's human rights violations, particularly the use of torture by agents of government," the 40-year-old lawmaker stressed.

Numerous cause-oriented groups and organizations have documented hundreds of cases where members of left-leaning political groups and the clergy as well as outspoken activists and journalists were either kidnapped or killed since the Arroyo administration took power in 2001. More than 1,000 cases of torture have also been recorded.

Escudero added that his colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, as well as human rights and people's organizations also played an important part in having the bill made into law.

He noted that for years, the bill languished in the legislative mill despite the fact that the Philippines was a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

"The enactment of R.A. 9745 is a concrete step towards fulfilling our commitment to an agreement we signed over two decades ago. More importantly, this law now gives our people another shield against human rights abuses."

Escudero said that from the dawn of Martial Law to this very day, many Filipinos have suffered because of their political beliefs.

"Under this administration alone, political activists have been tortured and have had to seek the protection of our courts against these abuses. With this new law on their side, the hope is that this will pave the way for the conviction and imprisonment of their perpetrators, and discourage those planning to use it," he emphasized.

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