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A marked increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country prompted Akbayan lawmakers to file a bill which seeks to stabilize and expedite the recovery of the victims from natural disasters, calamities and armed conflicts.

House Bill 3146 or The Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Act of 2013 was filed by Akbayan Representatives Barry Gutierrez and Walden Bello to fill in the legislative gaps on the protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs), to develop a concerted comprehensive government plan in solving the issue and to penalize violations of its provisions.

“Since September of this year, there has been a huge jump in the number of IDPs brought about by armed conflicts as seen in the Zamboanga crisis and by natural calamities such as typhoon Santi,” Gutierrez said.

The neophyte solon also pointed to the 7.2 earthquake that hit Central VisayasTuesday morning left an estimated number of over 45, 000 individuals displaced. He said that the escalating incidence of internal displacements underscores the primacy and urgency to institute legal safeguards for their victims.

“During disasters people lose access to their homes, food and livelihoods–the basic human rights guaranteed by the constitution–making them highly vulnerable to homelessness, hunger and poverty. The state must ensure that their basic necessities are provided, their personal liberties protected and their future insured through concrete rehabilitation and rebuilding plans. These are provided in this bill, which I hope will be approved immediately,” Gutierrez explained.

The bill is also expected to expedite the recovery of victims from internal displacements, muster durable solutions on the matter and build resilience among affected communities.

“Right now, no law has been enacted yet to tackle this issue head-on. This is worrying, not only because of the ensuing displacements, but also the fact that the country has been considered as one of the top five countries around the world with most numbers of IDPs,” Gutierrez adds.

 

Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), an international monitoring body on cases of internal displacements around the world, published a report last April of this year, which enumerates the Philippines as one of the top five countries with most numbers of internally displaced persons from 2008 to 2012 due to pervasive natural calamities and armed conflicts.

 

“Every year, our country faces natural calamities and armed conflicts that continually increase the number of IDPs, which makes the passage of this law imperative,” emphasized Gutierrez.

 

In May 2013, an earlier version of the IDP bill was vetoed by the President due to questions on the constitutionality of several of its provisions. The new version is amended to conform with overarching legal considerations.