DAVAO CITY, Philippines— Victims of torture and enforced disappearance by state forces may avail of the rehabilitation program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
In an interview with Davao Today, Social Welare Officer Aries Medrano said they have identified 22 male “victors” or victims of torture so far who will undergo rehabilitation under the Healing Intervention, Leading to Optimum Management for Victims of Torture and Enforced Disappearance and their Family Members, or Pagpaayo (healing).
Medrano, who coordinates with the DSWD’s partner agencies and private organizations under the Social Technology Unit, said the program was crafted in 2015, but it was only this year that the DSWD is implementing it.
Medrano said the program aims to provide intervention to lessen the victims’ trauma. He said under the program, beneficiaries will receive medical assistance.
“Since this is a pilot project, we will provide medical assistance for them because until now, victims of torture experience trauma,” he said.
The victims and families who wish to avail of the services will undergo psychosocial assessment, physical, mental, social, psychological healing interventions.
Since the program was announced locally, Medrano said there were many victims who inquired.
Medrano said victims may reach them or the Commission on Human Rights for assessment and documentation.
Last July 4, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between representatives of the DSWD, CHR, Department of Justice, Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government and Provincial Governor Nelson Dayanghirang of Davao Oriental. The program piloted in Davao Oriental. Medrano said the program will also be implemented in Zamboanga and the National Capital Region where the highest occurrence of torture and enforced disappearance were recorded.
Representatives of non-government organizations, including the Balay Rehabilitation Center and the Families of Involuntary Disappearance were also present.
The program was created after a research was conducted by the Social Technology Bureau (STB) of the DSWD. Based on the result, there is a high incidence of torture and enforced disappearances covering the period from 1983 until the year 2015.
CHR Regional Director Edmundo Albay, in a speech delivered by Atty. Rochelle Marie Solis during the MOA signing, said that the “victims of these serious human rights violations are placed outside the protection of the law and therefore cannot avail of existing safeguards provided by the state.”
“The Commission sees the provision of a rehabilitation program as a manifestation of due regard to the human rights of victims of torture and enforced disappearance,” he said.
Medrano said if other local government units are interested to replicate the program, the DSWD will coordinate with them. (Davao Today/Zea Io Ming C. Capistrano)