• Enforced disappearance violates the fundamental rights to life and liberty which are enshrined in Article III (The Bill of Rights) of the Constitution in order to be protected.
In his sponsorship speech as Chair of the Committee on the Bill of Rights of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, Fr. Joaquin Bernas said:
“Protection against whom? Protection against the state. The Bill of Rights governs the relationship between the individual and the state. Its concern is not the relation between individuals, between a private individual and other individuals. What the Bill of Rights does is to declare some forbidden zones in the private sphere inaccessible to any power holder.”
• During the interpellation, Fr. Bernas reiterated that “the rights in a Constitution are protection against the government”. When asked if the “rights which protect the citizens against other private citizens” can be considered as a valid second category of constitutional rights, Fr. Bernas categorically answered, “I would not put that under the Constitution. That would be more of a matter for the Civil and Penal Codes”. He further underscored that “a private individual” who “injures another individual… is not covered by the Bill of Rights” but by “civil law and criminal law”. Elucidating, he made it clear that the Bill of Rights lists the rights of individuals vis-à-vis the state. What the Bill of Rights, he said, tries to prevent is the violation of these rights by the state and not by other individuals. As an example, he cited the provision which states that “no person shall be deprived of life”. He explained that this means non-deprivation of life by the state without due process of law; that if a person kills another person, it is a violation of the penal law, but not of the Bill of Rights. Continue reading