MANILA (DWDD) – Recognizing the need to assist torture victims and their families, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), as the lead social protection agency, established a new rehabilitation program which focuses on the healing, rebuilding of lives, reparation, development, and access to justice for survivors of torture and enforced disappearances (ED).
Earlier this month, the Department, through its Social Technology Bureau (STB), signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the provincial government of Davao Oriental, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to implement the program, “Healing Intervention Leading to Optimum Management for Victims of Torture and Enforced Disappearance and their Family Members” or PagHILOM.
“The physical wounds of torture victims may heal, but the effect of their mental and psychological sufferings caused by the brutal and inhumane treatment they experienced may last throughout their lives,” said DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo. Sec. Taguiwalo herself experienced torture as a political prisoner of the Marcos dictatorship.
“What we can do right now is to offer them interventions to help them process their traumatic experiences and hopefully begin to recover from them. We want the victims and their families to attain the justice that they deserve and to assist them in their efforts to recover and move forward,” she added.
The pilot program is also set to be conducted in the National Capital Region and Region IX in the next months since the two regions are said to have the highest occurrence of torture and enforced disappearance recorded.
Psychological, emotional healing
By engaging a committed and functional rehabilitation team of service providers (SPs) and support groups (SGs) at the local and national level who will serve as “co-journeyers,” Victims of Torture (VicTors) and Family and Relatives of Involuntary and Enforced Disappearance victims and those who surfaced alive (FRIEnDs) will be provided with holistic and essential services to enable them to fulfil their rights to reparation and rehabilitation through the provision of psychological and emotional healing.
As co-journeyers, the rehabilitation team must assist in addressing the psychological pain, anxiety, and trauma of torture victim-survivors and the traumatic loss and unresolved grief or “complicated mourning” (where trauma and grief coincide) of family members or relatives of victims of ED.
Moreover, the therapeutic interventions which will be given to the beneficiaries aim to recover the sense of well being of the survivors and their families in order to become contributing and productive members of the community.
Provision of services
Through the signed memorandum, national and local government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) are expected to provide services and interventions to the torture survivors and families of ED victims by providing medical services, psychological and psychiatric interventions, skills training and livelihood assistance, financial assistance, and legal assistance.
Specifically, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) are tasked to provide legal assistance to torture victims and initiate the filing of cases against violators. The CHR is also assigned to visit and ensure that confinement facilities such as jails, prisons and detention facilities that have custody of torture and ED victims are not violating the human rights of detainees.
Likewise, the Department of Health (DOH) must provide technical assistance to local government units (LGUs) and NGOs in the implementation of the rehabilitation program specifically in the provision of medical interventions and mental health services to the victims of torture and ED and their families.
For the economic development of VicTors and FRIEnDs, the DSWD through its field offices can provide livelihood assistance, skills training and job placement in coordination with LGUs and agencies such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Victims of torture and family members of ED who may want to continue schooling can be referred to the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), TESDA and other partners for possible scholarship programs or enrollment in non-formal education.
Lastly, victims may also avail of financial assistance for food, medical and transportation needs depending on the assessment of social workers from the DSWD and Local Social Welfare and Development Offices (LSWDOs). SMS DSWD / MCAG