Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Signing of Anti-Torture Act affirms RP's commitment to uphold human rights

MANILA, Philippines - Personal liberties and dignity of human life must prevail over extremism and violence, said Speaker Prospero Nograles as he lauded President Gloria Arroyo's signing of Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-torture Act of 2009 which strongly affirms the government's commitment to protect human rights.

Nograles said the Anti-torture Act of 2009 should be enough to persuade international human rights watchdogs and the US Congress which withheld portions of US military aid to the Philippines due to alleged widespread human rights violations in the Philippines, that the government is taking all the necessary steps to stop all forms of human rights abuses in the country.

"The President's timely move heightened the country's role in the global fight against all forms of human rights violations," Nograles said, adding that "no one should countenance crimes against persons, personal liberty and security in the guise of public order and peace."

Furthermore, radical elements hiding behind the cloak of nationalism, have miserably failed in their efforts to taint and destroy the country's image in the international community, he said.

Radicalism and extremism are not exclusive domains of the leftists as demonstrated by the radical elements in their flag-waving streets demonstrations in Metro Manila and other parts of the country, Nograles said, noting that rightists or even those claiming to be "angels of society like, among others, the Davao Death Squad, had been reported to have consistently resorted to killings and murders to ensure public order and save lives."

"Desperate elements of society, who are most capable of sacrificing national interest for selfish political or non-political interests, will always be there lurking in the dark for any chance to instigate chaos. We must all unite and strengthen people's participation in governance," Nograles said.

The international community, Nograles noted, continues to cite the country's unrelenting strides and programs to protect and promote human rights over the last decade.

Torture, under RA 9745, is an act by which pain or suffering (physical or mental) is intentionally inflicted on a person or persons for the purpose of obtaining from him/them or from a third person information or confessions.

Aside from torture, the law prohibits other cruel, degrading and inhuman punishments. The government instituted and enacted the measure in consonance with the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which the Philippines is one of the signatory-States.

Penalties on violators range from the minimum of arresto mayor to the maximum of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, depending on the gravity of the acts committed.

Nograles likewise stressed that the newly enacted landmark law mandates the regular and consistent consultations or dialogues between the representatives of government and its instrumentalities and the human rights groups.

The law penalizes a person for an act he committed or is suspected of having committed or for intimidating or coercing another or a third person for any reason and when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a person in authority or agent of a person in authority. (Gil Bugaoisan)

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