Samar welcomes Multi-Sectoral
Quick Reaction Team (MSQRT)
By EMY BONIFACIO,
CATBALOGAN, Samar – In
response to an invitation sent by Dir. Carlos P. Medina of the Ateneo
Human Rights Center (AHRC), representatives from multi-sectors coming
from Samar gathered at the Flaming Hat Restaurant, Catbalogan last
august 27, 2010. A half-day exploratory session with invited
stakeholders and Ateneo lawyers, Atty. Khrisna Gomez and Atty. Maria
Patricia R. Cervantes, was facilitated by the Social Action Center,
Diocese of Calbayog, to discuss the possibility of setting-up of a
Multi-Sectoral Quick Reaction Team (MSQRT) in Samar.
The MSQRT, an AHRC
project assisted by The Asia Foundation, seeks to address the
phenomenon of Extra-Legal Killings (ELKs) and Enforced Disappearances
(EDs) in selected areas around the country. A series of seminars
organized by the Supreme Court of the Philippines and the Philippine
Judicial Academy in partnership with other government organizations
are initiated to come up with specific recommendations that would
address the problem. A concept paper has been distributed to
participants during the meeting.
In the said forum,
representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine
National Police, Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, Academe, Media, Civil
Society Organizations, Church, Commission on Human Rights, Department
of social Welfare and Development and the Youth Sector are present.
During the exploratory meeting, commitments to support the setting up
of an MSQRT in Samar were verbally aired by each member in attendance.
Moreover, the body expects to expand the invitation to more interested
groups for the Focus Group discussion (FGD) that will meet on
September 10, 2010 and discuss details as to the scope, structure and
procedure of the proposed MSQRT.
Should the Samar MSQRT
project be realized, Samarnons will expect for a one-stop-shop of
coordinated services that will address the needs of the families of
ELK and ED victims. It was stressed, however, that the team will
neither focus on criminal justice nor on the creation of a distinct
investigative body. It simply intends to build-up the capacity of
members to effectively coordinate with stakeholders and effectively
reach out to victims. The respective functions of stakeholders will be
respected, but a secretariat will be in place to facilitate the
Tutaan, G7 of the 8ID, PA welcomed the project saying that it will be
a great help in their fight against insurgency. In the same manner,
Col. Gardiola of the PNP feels glad that victims of various killings
will be given assistance as well as witnesses will be proviced with a
sanctuary. Fiscal Aguilar expressed his apprehension regarding the
project because of security concerns for advocates. According to him,
most human rights advocates are being killed in pursuance of the
truth. He was, however, quoted when he said, “It’s good to do
something than not to do anything”. On the other hand, the
CHR was thankful that their cause in upholding human rights is now a shared
responsibility. Fiscal Daiz suggested on the permanency of member
representatives for the continuity of deliberations and the
involvement of the heads of agencies in terms of commitments. He
stressed that with or without the MSQRT, their office continue
prosecuting cases as mandated by law.
The MSQRT project
opens a new hope for Samarnons. ‘Darangpan”, an MSQRT center in
Northern Samar is now operational and following up cases in the area.
Another MSQRT is being maintained in Leyte.