Karapatan to Marcos Jr.: Surface the eight desaparecidos under your watch

Activists, friends and kin of the involuntarily disappeared massed up at the Court of Appeals building in Manila this Tuesday to mark the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

Led by Desaparecidos, an organization of families and friends of victims of involuntary disappearance, the gathering served as a stark reminder of the continuing phenomenon of enforced disappearances under repressive regimes, a practice that has spanned decades and continues to this day. Desaparecidos was joined by human rights alliance Karapatan, Selda (an organization of former political prisoners) and Hustisya (an organization of families of victims of extrajudicial killings).

“From the era of Marcos Sr. in the ’70s and ’80s to the current administration under Marcos Jr.,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, “enforced disappearances have been a tool used to instill fear and silence critics. More than 1,000 individuals disappeared under the Marcos Sr. dictatorship, 821 during the Cory Aquino regime, 39 under Ramos, 26 under Estrada, 206 under Arroyo, nine under Noynoy Aquino, at least 20 under Duterte and 8 so far under Marcos Jr.,” she said.

“Enforced disappearances are not just numbers; they represent lives lost, families torn apart, and communities living in fear,” said Palabay. “They are a gross violation of human rights and a blatant disregard for the rule of law.”

A habeas corpus petition was filed last July 2023 to compel authorities to surface the latest victims of enforced disappearance, Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus, who were abducted on April 28 in Taytay, Rizal. The military and police have denied having them in custody, leaving their whereabouts unknown.

“Despite the enactment of Republic Act No. 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012,” decried Palabay, “enforced disappearances have not stopped.”

“As we remember those who have been victims of enforced disappearances,” she added, “we demand a stop to the looming recurrence of the repressive tactics of the late dictator Marcos under his son’s regime.”

“We stand in solidarity with the families’ victims in the fight to surface and attain justice for the victims, and exact accountability from the perpetrators,” Karapatan said.