SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill promoting and protecting the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in situations of armed conflict and violence.
The House Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Rep. Guillermo Romarate, Jr. (2nd District, Surigao del Norte) endorsed, sponsored and defended for plenary passage House Bill 4744, a consolidation of four separate bills.
The original bills are House Bills 239, 2247, 3003 and 3146, authored by Reps. Rene Relampagos (1st District, Bohol), Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City)) and Maximo Rodriguez, Jr., Gus Tambunting (2nd District, Parañaque City), Ibarra "Barry" Gutierrez and Walden Bello (Party-list, Akbayan), respectively.
House Bill 4744, as contained in Committee Report No. 349 entitled "Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act," seeks to afford similar protection to citizens who are non-combatants in cases where armed conflict of a non-international character is inevitable, and that they shall not be discriminated against in their enjoyment of rights and freedoms on the ground where they are internally-displaced.
"The bill defines and criminalizes acts of arbitrary internal displacement committed by any person or group of persons and directed against the civilian population," Relampagos stressed.
Rodriguez said the measure defines "arbitrary internal displacement" as those "acts of displacement or any other coercive act committed by any person or group of persons and directed against the civilian population, which are contrary to law, good morals, public order and public policy, and committed with abuse of authority, oppressive or wanton disregard of the right to life, liberty or property and abode of the residents of an area in which they are lawfully present."
The measure mandates that the prohibited acts of arbitrary internal displacement shall include those committed based on policies of apartheid, "ethnic cleansing" or similar practices, based on situations of armed conflict, development projects, and natural, human-induced and human-made hazards, when used as a form of collective punishment and in violation of the rights of IDPs, and where there is malice, bad faith, gross negligence or any willful violation of the rights granted in this proposed Act.
The bill provides for a mechanism for international humanitarian assistance to facilitate their services for the support and relief of the internally displaced.
The measure sets up a system of providing financial assistance to IDPs and monetary compensation for the damages inflicted on the IDPs arising from arbitrary internal displacement.
The bill establishes a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, which shall have the power to inquire into, summon and investigate the orders of Battle as defined in the Act, as well as the legal and factual justification for the inclusion of specific persons and groups in the said Order of Battle.
Other co-authors of the measure are Reps. Celso Lobregat (1st District, Zamboanga City), Agapito Guanlao (Party-list, BUTIL), Lorna Velasco (Party-list, AMA), Karlo Alexie Nograles (1st District, Davao City), Christopher Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), Maria Leonor Gerona-Robredo (3rd District, Camarines Sur), Isidro Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Juan Johnny Revilla (Party-list, OFW), Mariano Piamonte, Jr. (Party-list, A TEACHER), Emil Ong (2nd District, Northern Samar), Angelina Tan (4th District, Quezon), Nicasio Aliping, Jr. (Lone District, Baguio City), Rogelio Espina (Lone District, Biliran), Emmeline Aglipay (Party-list, DIWA), Linabelle Ruth Villarica (4th District, Bulacan), Mercedes Alvarez (6th District, Negros Occidental), Felix William Fuentebella (4th District, Camarines Sur), Magnolia Rosa Antonio-Nadres (4th District, Nueva Ecija), Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), Elisa Kho (2nd District, Masbate), Roman Romulo (Lone District, Pasig City) and Erlina Santiago (Party-list, 1 SAGIP).