Press Release
May 26, 2015

Committee Report No. 149 on Senate Bill No. 2785

"An Act Protecting the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons & Penalizing

Mr. President, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

The Philippines is among the countries with the largest population of Internally Displaced Persons or IDPs, owing to many factors such as: a) the fact that the country is located along the "typhoon belt" and within the "Pacific Ring of Fire;" and the b) perennial insurgencies between the government and armed rebel groups.

Internal Displacement refers to the involuntaryor[CJ1] coerced movement or relocation of persons, families, or communities from their areas of habitual abode and source of substance within the national borders, as a result of or in order to avoid or minimize the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized and/or organized violence, violations of human rights, implementation of development projects, natural, human-induced and human-made hazards.

IDPs are particularly vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, and violence. Their socio-economic status, psychological state, physical health and over-all well-being also take a heavy toll as a result of displacement.

Involuntary displacement results in loss of lives and properties, psychological trauma, family disintegration, disruption in education, loss of employment, anarchy, and the like.

The recent Mamasapano clash between the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF); the catastrophic Typhoon Yolanda that hit Visayas; the 3-week Zamboanga stand-off between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); and the catastrophic 7.2 magnitude earthquake which hit Bohol are all heart wrenching and sobering testaments to how internal displacement is a paramount public concern.

The figures are revealing:

Typhoon Yolanda, which devastated the Philippines on 8 November 2013 resulted in the internal displacement of almost 4 million people.[1]

The battle between the AFP and the MNLF, which erupted in Zamboanga, as a result of the MNLF's pursuit for independence, caused 119,000 to be internally displaced.[2]

Over 344,300 became IDPs in Bohol when the earth quake struck.[3]

And as a consequence of the January 25, 2015 "Mamasapano tragedy," 1,500 families were internally displaced, according to the Commission on Human Rights. Because of this fire-fight, some parents in Mamasapano no longer send their children to school.[4]

These events established the imperative need to have a distinctive legislation that would recognize and respect the unique needs and circumstances of IDPs. The very nature of their internal displacement puts them in particular danger. The state, therefore, needs to afford them special protection. And this bill exactly aims to promote and protect the rights of internally displaced persons and penalize acts of arbitrary internal displacement.

This bill has the following essential features:

a) It details all the rights of IDPs during and after displacement;

b) It penalizes acts of arbitrary internal displacement;

c) It provides safeguards against arbitrary internal displacement;

d) It provides for the return, local integration or resettlement of IDPs;

e) It provides for financial and non-monetary assistance to IDPs;

f) It provides a mechanism where IDPs could be awarded damages for prohibited acts of arbitrary internal displacement.

g) It sets up a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee & inter-agency coordinating committee that would monitor compliance with this Act; and

h) It establishes the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the institutional focal point for IDPs.

As each one of us has a stake in human security and development, IDPs should not be considered merely as "collateral damage" of armed conflict or other humanitarian emergencies.

This bill is therefore a landmark piece of legislation that would address the vulnerabilities of IDPs.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, thank you and good afternoon.


[1] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Humanitarian Bulletin. Typhoon Haiyan: One Year On. Issue 29, 1-31 October 2014.

[2] United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Zamboanga Displacement Response. Infographic. October 28, 2014.

[3] United Nations. Philippines: Bohol Earthquake Action Plan. October 2013.

[4] Philippine Daily Inquirer. 1,500 families displaced by Mamasapano clash, says CHR. 5 February 2015.


[CJ1]The UNGPID refer to IDPs being "obliged" OR "forced" to flee, which are not dependent on each other; this definition should therefore reflect this human rights standard.


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