The Philippines enacted the Anti-Torture Law in 2009. It is affirmation of the Philippines commitment to human rights under its obligations to International law and to the Constitution. However, having a law is not a guarantee of protection if there is impunity. This is glaring in a poor country like the Philippines. Thus, it is left to advocates, especially CSOs including MAG, to pursue the Anti-Torture law's complete implementation. The Philippines waited for 24 years before the Congress passed this law, why not ensure the law is fully implemented especially in relation to the rehabilitation of the victims/survivors of torture.
MAG have worked on and ensuring that the victim/survivors of torture received treatment and are rehabilitated. We have collaborated and worked with all government agencies not only for compliance of the law but to ensure that torture should not happen again (like Martial Law -- never again). MAG have collaborated with government agencies such as (1) the judicial sectors through increasing awareness for common understanding on the Anti-Torture Law and other human rights instruments for prosecutors and other investigation agencies; (2) lobbying to the National Health Agency for internal policy; (3) enhancing capacities of the public health officers in documenting and reporting cases of torture and (4) engaging the National Human Rights Institutions in monitoring cases of torture and (5) ensuring the participation of security sectors by granting unhampered access to health providers and lawyers in detention produce positive results (6) finally, working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development for rehabilitation and referral of social services for victims of torture. Working together within and among government agencies is necessary to fulfill the right not to be tortured but also, for them to effectively implement the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program for victims of torture and their families.
MAG as an organisation that works in the health sector and with experience of working with Department of Health collaborated to ensure that policies and budget for the Department were in place. Because of this, the Department Order 2008-13 and a budget allocated for the training of public health officers. This ensured that torture incidences were recognized through victim registration in its database and the participation of the Philippine Health Insurance. This will create an opportunity to develop packages of health assistance to victims of torture and their families. The Department of Social Welfare and Development ensures implementation of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan within its agency. With the Department of Justice, enhanced cooperation with the public prosecutors especially on evidence gathering through medical documentation, creation of special prosecutors under Administrative Order 35 and with the Department of Justice as its Secretariat tasked to review cases of EJK, Disappearance and Torture.
Funding & No Conflicts Declaration
Mercidita De Joya as program manager and Edeliza Hernandez, Executive Director are employed by the Medical Action Group, that is supported by various funding partners.