DAVAO ORIENTAL— The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has established a rehabilitation program set to benefit victims of torture and the families of the victims of involuntary disappearances.

Through the program called “Healing Intervention Leading to Optimum Management for Victims of Torture and Enforced Disappearance and their Family Members” (locally known as PAGPAAYO), a committed and functional rehabilitation team from the LGU and regional levels will provide services that will promote healing, rebuilding, reparation, and access to justice for victim-survivors of torture and enforced disappearances.

In behalf of the Provincial Government, Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the representatives of national agencies and civil society organizations, defining the role of all involved parties in the implementation of the program.

The MOA signing which was held on July 4 at the Grand Conference Room of the Provincial Capitol saw the presence of national agencies which are the DSWD, Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of Justice, Department of Health, and the Department of Interior and Local Government.  Representatives from civil society organizations, who also signed the agreement, are the Families of Involuntary Disappearance and the Balay Rehabilitation Center.

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.

The DSWD through its counterparts in the municipal and provincial levels is yet to identify the victims who will benefit from the program.

CHR Regional Commissioner Director Edmundo Albay, in a speech delivered for him 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.”

Thelsa Biolena, Director of STB, says that these torture victims “may have healed physically but are still manifesting that they have not yet moved on from the trauma that they went through.”

The program which will be pilot-tested here in the province will provide interventions for the physical, mental, social, psychological healing, and development of victims of torture and their families.

The pilot intervention will likewise be conducted in the National Capital Region and Region IX where the highest occurrence of torture and enforced disappearance were recorded. (Riza M. Golez/Davao Oriental Provincial Information Office)