Enforced disappearances In the Philippines

Even though forced disappearances are against the law and are regarded as barbaric by the natives, they frequently happen in the Philippines. Human rights must be upheld in order to protect the dignity of the populace, states Republic Act Number 10353, which was authorized and published by the Philippine government. Additionally, it says that violating people's freedom of choice through forced detention, solitary confinement, or other forms of incarceration will result in punishment under the state Act of 2012. (Official Gazette of the republic of the Philippines, 2012). There is a wealth of information about the disappearances, but attempts to hold non-governmental advocates accountable through the legal system have failed. Despite being bound by international legal and human rights institutions, the state of Philippine down plays the existence and impact of enforced disappearances rendering justice to the victims and their family and friends impossible.

Enforced disappearances in the Philippines are fueled by the harsh political environment and the heightened level of corruption in chief government offices. According to investigation completed by Philip Alston, the heap graves discovered in the Philippines are proof that disappearances occur. Alston’s findings indicate that the victims of enforced disappearance were either human rights defenders or left-wing activists considered to be insurgents of the communist party. The report dates to 2001 listing approximately 830 victims that disappeared and are feared dead by their family and friends (Alston, 2007). The rights of the victims to freedom and expression are denied and their free will is limited through forced confinement and as such their family and friends are also denied their rights to seek justice due to fear of similar actions. The report presented by Alston sheds light on the facts around enforced disappearances and the possible legal actions that the state enforces. It is discovered that the abductions were mostly committed by the armed forces of the Philippines consequently making the justice process unachievable. Although the government showed initiative through its supreme court and gave a directive under administrative Order No. 25-2007 to set up about 100 regional courts to look into and solve the abduction cases there has not been significant results (Alston,2007).

Human rights are continuously disregarded by the state since the justices system is corrupt and in favor of the perpetrators since they are wealthy and can easily bribe their way out of crimes. Guaranteeing of responsibility to human right crimes such as enforced disappearances is addressed passively despite their intensity. The lack of regard to such matters violates the rights of both victims and their families according to the United Nations. According to the United Nations, the abductions violate the recognition of the victims by the law, security, judicial guarantees and identity (Human Rights Watch, 2008). The Philippine government’s inconclusive investigations and trial infringe on the rights of its citizens that fall prey to the abductions. Poor follow-ups by the judicial system further frustrates the families of the victim causing them mental anguish and desperation thereby denying them quality life. The United Nation has developed a committee to look into the rising cases of enforced disappearances in the Philippines considering there increase since the Marcos regime to date. From the perspective of two investigators that testified before the United States subcommittee of foreign relation, the abductees are tortured and in most cases killed and buried in mass graves. These findings affirm that human rights are barely upheld in the Philippines. The discoveries conclude that the main causes of human rights infringement are poor political and social structures in the country (Human Rights Watch, 2008).

The International Federation for Human Rights has also documented several cases of forced disappearances that were not accounted for by both the local and state government of Philippines. Being a signatory to the United Nations convention against torture and the international covenant on civil and political rights, the state has failed to hold its end of the bargain. It has overlooked the tortures that its citizens have been subjected by known perpetrators (Human Rights Watch, 2008). It is also evident that the armed forces in conjunction with the police take part in the disappearance of political threats and human rights activities in the country.

In conclusion, human rights are seriously jeopardized through enforced disappearances in the Philippines. The Philippine government has a weak political, Social and judicial system to tackle the issue. Although international bodies have been looking into the crisis it has been an uphill climb considering the source of information is corrupt and may not be reliable. Accounts from investigators such as Philip Alston proof that the Filipino people live in fear of their lives and that of their loved ones because of the rampant abductions. The law of the state does not protect its people and therefore, the human rights of the people are limited and compromised by the forced disappearances that commonly occur in the county. International bodies such as the United Nations and the International Federation for Human Rights constantly collect reports on the enforced disappearances cases and compel the government to bring the matters to book since they are bound by international human rights laws.


Alston, P. (2007). To the Philippines A/HRC/4/20/Add.3, March 22, 2007

Human Rights Watch. (2008). Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines, Human Rights

Watch's Submission to the Human Rights Council

Retrieved from

Official Gazette of the republic of Philippines. (2012) [Republic Act No. 10353: An Act

Defining and Penalizing Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance

Retrieved from

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