Kin of "desaparecidos" echo call for justice, lambasts gov't "apathy"

Families and friends of desaparecidos, or victims of enforced disappearance under the group Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice) decried the "state's apparent disregard for accountability and justice" as they remember the memories of their loved ones on All Souls Day.

"We commemorate the memories and the bravery of our friends and family members who were forcibly taken from us, despite not having any graves to offer candles and flowers, nor any idea about their whereabouts. We also honor and remember the deceased relatives of desaparecidos who tirelessly demanded for justice and sought answers about their loved ones," said Erlinda Cadapan, Desaparecidos national chairperson.

According to the group's data, there are around 1,900 victims of enforced disappearance since Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s dictatorial rule, four of which were abducted under the current Marcos regime – unionist Alipio "Ador" Juat, community organizer Elizabeth Magbanua, and peasant organizers Elgene Mungcal and Elena Cortez. All of them have yet to be found.

“We strongly echo the call to surface Ador, Elizabeth, and all our loved ones. We fear that such cases will increase under this administration, considering its penchant for human rights violations and disinformation," Cadapan said.

The group deplored the government's obvious disinterest in resolving cases of enforced disappearances through the years.

"Cases of enforced disappearances still continue despite the enactment of Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act in 2012. Furthermore, the Philippine government has not signed and ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. This, together with the recent cases of abduction and the absence of action in solving other pending cases, evidently shows the state's apathy towards us and its palpable lack of commitment to justice and accountability.

The Desaparecidos official said that despite such challenges, they will never give up with their quest to find their loved ones as well as in demanding justice.

"Despite the challenges from the current administration's massive campaign to distort facts and history, now is not the time to cower. We will not let our loved ones' sacrifices be in vain. We vow to continue to speak our truths and strengthen our demand for justice and accountability. We also urge the public to join and support us in our calls. Surface all desaparecidos! Ilitaw ang mga nawawala!" she ended.###