Crusade for justice highlighted in a different kind of Santacruzan'

Evangeline, mother of EJK victim Beng Hernandez, as Queen of Justice A different kind of Santacruzan was held today by families of victims of human rights violations to highlight the crusade for justice. The traditional Santacruzan is held in commemoration of Queen Helena's crusade in finding Christ's cross.

"Just like Reyna Elena, we are on a crusade for peace and justice, but unlike her, we do not have our sons or daughters by our side," said Evangeline Hernandez, convener of Hustisya said. "Our daughters and sons have either been killed or disappeared under the watch of a cruel government and justice eludes us until now," Hernandez continued.

Hernandez' daughter Benjaline was killed by state security forces while doing human rights work in 2002. Six years have passed but their case in court has not prospered and those responsible for Benjaline's death are being coddled by their superiors in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

There was no Reyna Elena or Reyna Emperatriz in Hustisya's version of Santacruzan, yet there were Queens who bear the symbols of Light, Struggle, Freedom, Justice and Democracy.

Linda, mother of disappeared Sherlyn Cadapan, as Queen of Light "What we need is a 'queen' that will stand for all these virtues that we want to reign in this country," Hernandez said at the Peace Bell shrine in Quezon Memorial Circle where the procession ended.

The 'queens' were not dressed in fabulous gowns and the children were not adorned with wings and halos. The 'sagalas' only wore simple white clothing while holding symbols of their calls.

Some of the children carried toys, books, rice and soil, symbols of their rights as children to play, study, be taken care of and nourished. Eight other kids formed an acrostic of the word HUSTISYA (justice). They are the children who were displaced by massive military operations in the provinces in Southern Tagalog.

Mrs. Linda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn Cadapan, carried a lit torch, symbol of their ardent desire to that the disappeared will find their way home.

"My daughter's name is among the 193 victims of enforced disappearance that Mrs. Arroyo is duty-bound to return to our embrace. It is simply unacceptable that the Commander-In-Chief is doing nothing to surface those who were abducted by her subordinates," said Mrs. Cadapan.

The Peace Bell was struck thrice before an ecumenical service was led by Rev. Dionito Cabillas, IFI. The procession and service was attended by families of victims of human rights violations, church people, and human rights and peace advocates.

This is the third gathering of families of victims of human rights violations this year. "We will continue to advance human rights and work towards achieving justice," concludes Mrs. Hernandez. ###