Karapatan calls for the enactment of anti-disappearance bill

From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: enforced disappearance continue

As families and friends of the disappeared call for the surfacing and justice for their loved ones today, Karapatan challenged Pres. Noynoy Aquino to sign into law the long-pending legislation criminalizing the act of enforced or involuntary disappearances and penalizing state security forces and government officials involved in the perpetuation of such acts.

Families of Desaparecidos 

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said it is critical for Congress and Aquino to pass House Bill 98, as the 15th session draws to a close for the coming election. “The measure appears as ignored as the bill for justice and compensation for victims during Martial Law. With Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., the butcher behind the abduction of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, still on the loose, these, and more, reflect the administration’s very low regard for human rights,” she said. 

Noynoy Mosaic of Desaparecidos 

It is unfortunate, she said, that relatives of the disappeared continue to be haunted not only by their protracted search for their loved ones, but also with the continuing harassment of elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Dr. Edita Burgos, convenor of End Impunity Alliance and mother of disappeared activist Jonas, was recently tailed again by alleged military agents, while hearings at the Court of Appeals and the Department of Justice on charges she filed against the perpetrators of the abduction of Jonas continue. 

“Disappearances have continued to this day, with 11 victims under the Aquino administration. Such are still being perpetrated not only by the AFP but also by their paramilitary groups, such as the RPA-ABB. Jully Devero, Gerald Abale, Novito Gabriel, Michael Celeste, four farmers in Negros were abducted and are still missing because of the RPA-ABB’s role in the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency program,” Palabay commented.

Tinay Palabay of Karapatan 

Mercenary groups such as the RPA-ABB are included in the Social Integration Program under the government’s Oplan Bayanihan, and Executive Order 546, an Arroyo measure legitimizing the operations of paramilitaries and private armies, has not been revoked by Aquino.  

“Aquino cradles these paramilitary groups to inflict grave violations such as disappearances. These are among the indications that Martial Law exists to this day, albeit without a formal declaration,” she emphasized. 

Photos by Lito Ocampo 


Desaparecidos to Noynoy: You’re no different from GMA and Marcos

We, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) gather today, on the International Day of the Disappeared to demand from the Noynoy Aquino government for justice for all victims of enforced disappearances.

Connie Empeno of Desaparecidos 

The practice of enforced disappearance among those it perceives as “enemies of the state” did not stop when martial law was ended. The practice of enforced disappearance, although not highlighted, continues up to the present, where there are already 11 documented victims in the first two years of the Aquino presidency. 

Also, the existence of the paramilitary groups which started during martial law and proliferated during the Cory Aquino is again sowing terror in the far-flung provinces doing the dirty work for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counter-insurgency activities. 

On the night of July 19, 2011, Micheal Celeste, Jully Devero and Gerald Abale, peasants from Magallona, Negros Occidental were abducted by members of Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Buncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB). They remain missing up to this time. The RPA-ABB is a break-away group of the New People's Army and has long surrendered to the government. The Noynoy Aquino government supports the RPA-ABB through its PhP31 million PAMANA project. 

Human rights violations are increasing and enforced disappearances is one of the gravest form that persists from the time of martial law up to the regime of Noynoy Aquino. The government’s counter-insurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan is instrumental to the unabated human rights violations and has resulted in more victims of enforced disappearances.

We hold the Noynoy government responsible for all the disappearances that happened under his regime. We also hold the Noynoy government answerable to the continuing impunity and injustice such as the continuing disappearance of many victims and the non-arrest of the Butcher Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. 

President Noynoy promised the Filipino people justice, yet,  we only get INJUSTICE. Noynoy Aquino is no different from his predecessor Gloria Arroyo, and even Marcos. He has done nothing to correct the injustices that happened during the past regimes. He has, in fact, perpetrated the terror of martial law by implementing the same laws and by sowing the same terror, especially in the rural areas. 

We, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice will not be fooled. We have learned from those ahead of us that as long as disappearances continue, the perpetrators remain unpunished, and the missing are not found, we will remain steadfast in our struggle for justice.