Vetoed bill protecting rights of IDPs revived in Congress

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Friday, October 18, 2013

MANILA -- To help fast track the recovery of calamities and armed conflicts victims, party-list lawmakers on Friday revived the proposed Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Act earlier vetoed by President Benigno Aquino III.

Akbayan party-list Representatives Ibarra Gutierrez and Walden Bello said their House Bill 3146 is a timely proposal following the destruction brought about by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol and Cebu City this week.

Gutierrez said the number of families displaced underscores the primacy and urgency to institute legal safeguards for the quake victims.

The lawmakers also cited the crisis in Zamboanga where members of the Nur Misuar-led faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) tried to take over the city.

“Since September of this year, there has been a huge jump in the number of IDPs brought about by armed conflicts as seen in the Zamboanga crisis and by natural calamities such as typhoon Santi,” Gutierrez added.

Once the proposed law is approved, a comprehensive government plan shall be implemented to protect IDPs. It is expedite the recovery of victims from internal displacements, muster durable solutions on the matter and build resilience among affected communities.

“Every year, our country faces natural calamities and armed conflicts that continually increase the number of IDPs, which makes the passage of this law imperative,” Gutierrez said as he urged Congress and President Aquino to approve their bill immediately.

In May 2013, an earlier version of the IDP bill was vetoed by the President due to questions on the constitutionality in several of its provisions.

The party-list lawmakers said that the amended proposal conforms to "overarching legal considerations."

In May this year, President Aquino vetoed the proposal saying that the bill's provision on damages unlawfully differentiates between displacements caused by security agents of the State and other entities, and that the power granted to the Commission on Human Rights impinges on the exclusive power of the Judiciary to facilitate award of claims.

Aquino also said that the provision allowing individuals to claim financial assistance and compensation from the government "opens the door to a slew of claims or cases against the government, and goes against the 'non-suability' (immunity from law suits) character of the State." (Sunnex)

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