Sen. Francis Escudero lauded the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for citing the reconciled bill of the Philippine Congress protecting internally displaced persons (IDP) as a “constructive achievement of the Philippines in the resolution of the plight of IDPs.”
Bernard Kerblat, UNHCR Representative in the Philippines, issued the recognition to the bill which Escudero sponsored in the Senate as chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
The bill is awaiting the signature of President Benigno Aquino III.
Escudero said the bill will in many ways complement the truce and the peace agreement that the government is seeking to cement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after the initial Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed in Oct. 15 last year.
The bill recognized that majority of IDPs resulted from flight of individuals away from areas of armed conflict.
The decades-long conflict in Mindanao had spawned periodic humanitarian crisis in the southern region which the IDP bill seeks to address but the lasting solution to this problem still rests on the success of efforts between the government and the MILF to forge lasting peace, Escudero said.
The Philippines had been tagged among the countries with the “biggest displacement in the world” by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center prior to the peace pact with the MILF.
Escudero said he holds the protection of human rights as non-negotiable and that the plight of IDPs is among the worst example of violated rights.
He noted the vision of Mindanao as a land of promise depends greatly on achieving enduring peace and the signing of the framework agreement constitutes a great leap forward.#