Kin of desaparecidos assail “prevailing culture of impunity” under Duterte

As the world commemorates the International Day of the Disappeared, Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice) denounced the Duterte government for “amplifying the prevailing culture of impunity” in the country.

Erlinda Cadapan, Desaparecidos national chairperson and mother of missing UP student Sherlyn Cadapan, said they are pained that enforced disappearances continue to be perpetrated by the current regime.

“Attacks on human rights are full-scale under the Duterte regime. Despite the existence of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act in 2012, a number of persons were abducted and have gone missing. No number is too many with regards to enforced disappearances. Worse, the existing culture of impunity has been reinforced by Duterte and his minions’s show of addiction to power and bloodshed,” Cadapan said.

There are 19 victims of enforced disappearance under Duterte since 2016, according to human rights group Karapatan.

Cadapan pointed out that the Duterte government was hell-bent in passing the Anti-Terror Law, but kept the Philippines a non-signatory to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which declares it a crime against humanity.

“The Convention gives the victims’ families the right to seek reparations and to know the truth about the disappearance of their loved ones. The Philippine government’s non-participation in this convention is denying the victims of justice and remedies,” said Cadapan.

On the other hand, the Anti-Terror Law contains provisions that the state can use to intensify its attacks against critics, activists, and rights defenders, where a person can be detained for 14 to 24 days without charge, violating their right to due process and leaves suspects to possible abuses or torture.

“With these in mind, we fear that the already dismal state of human rights in the country will further plummet,” she stressed.

In the end, Cadapan said that they will never waver in upholding human rights and in demanding for truth, accountability, and justice.

“Our missing kin and our experiences in the search has taught us to fight for what is just. We have suffered the worst with the disappearances of our loved ones, and we don’t want others to experience the same ordeal. As we continue the call to surface our loved ones, we join the rest of victims of rights violations, and condemn the vicious attacks on human rights. By all means, this regime should be made accountable by the time it steps down from power,” she ended.

We are also inviting everyone to join us in commemorating the International Day of the Disappeared through this online press conference which will stream live on Desaparecidos page today, August 30, at 10 a.m.: