Gloria Arroyo is 100% responsible for disappearances & rights violations! – Desaparecidos kin

Witnesses and relatives of victims of enforced disappearances today came out to accuse Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of being responsible for the abductions because of her national policy Oplan Bantay Laya.

“Mrs. Arroyo, please quit your lies. We don’t have any need of your farcical investigations. YOU, the military and police are 100 % responsible for the more than 200 abductions and disappearances in your six years in power,” said Ghay Portajada, spokesperson of the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (DESAPARECIDOS).

At a press conference today in Quezon City, members of DESAPARECIDOS presented two witnesses who were also victims of human rights violations. The refusal of the Arroyo government to go after perpetrators had compelled them to tell the public of what they witnessed and underwent.

Victim Oscar Leuterio, 48, a former security guard of Iron Ore mining company in Doña Remedios Trinidad in Bulacan was abducted with three others on 17 April 2006 by soldiers and CAFGU who tortured and held him incomunicado for five months. He was first brought to Camp Tecson in Bulacan but was eventually transferred to the 7th Infantry Division headquarters in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija where he witnessed how other abducted victims were tortured. He also talked to then 7th ID chief Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr., who told him he would be allowed to live if he cooperated.

Leuterio had filed criminal and civil charges against Palparan, now 7th ID commander Maj. Gen. Juanito Gomez, Lt. Noel Clement of the 703rd Infantry Brigade, 2nd Lt. Ferdinand Basas and several militiamen.

Lolita Robiños, 53, was manhandled when soldiers barged into her home and forcibly took away her son Romulos on 17 November 2006 in Angeles City, Pampanga. They had sought the help of the GRP-nominated section to the Joint Secretariat of the Joint Monitoring Committee and the Commission on Human Rights and filed a petition of habeas corpus case at the Supreme Court that delegated it to the Angeles City Regional Trial Court.

“We laud Mr. Leuterio and Mrs. Robiños for coming forward to tell the nation of the dastardly acts being committed by government forces against the citizenry. We encourage other victims and witnesses to come forward; for us to organize and unite so we’ll be much stronger in fighting the injustice of this regime,” said Desaparecidos spokesperson Ghay Portajada.

Linda Cadapan, mother of missing UP student Sherlyn, lamented the common experience of families who sought help from government agencies - from filing police blotters to writing letters to Arroyo. “Our cries for help in our search had been in vain, and it is because this government is only concerned with suppressing its critics and covering up its violations,” she said.

Atty. Rex Fernandez, counsel for the Cadapan-Empeño, Leuterio, and Robiños cases, bewailed that the judicial system under Arroyo has denied justice to the victims, and engenders the atmosphere of fear and impunity. “The legal paradigm is the concealment of the criminals and the display of crime to instill fear and submission amongst us,” he said.

Desaparecidos said an independent, investigative body with the representatives of international human rights groups should be formed and should be allowed to search major military camps, detachments and safehouses, like Fort Magsaysay where desaparecidos are being detained.

This February, the group will be remembering some desaparecidos on their respective birthdays:

  • February 7, 30th birthday of Gabriel Calubad, who was abducted with his father on June 17, 2006.
  • February 5, 54th birthday of Federico Intise, abducted with his wife Nelly on Oct. 25, 2006 in Alabel, Sarangani province
  • February 16, birthday of Armando Portajada, Coca Cola Union president abducted and disappeared on July 31, 1987 in Makati
  • February 17, 30th birthday of Sherlyn Cadapan, abducted with Karen Empeño on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

And those who were abducted and disappeared on this month:

  • February 1, 2006 - Robin Solano, Ricardo Valmocina Jr., abducted and disappeared in Pinaod, San Ildefonso Bulacan
  • February 3, 2006, Ernesto Capili abducted and disappeared in Gerona, Tarlac
  • February 9, 2002 - Honorio Ayroso and Johnny Orcino were abducted and disappeared in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija; Josephine dela Cruz was abducted in Tayamaan, Mamburao, Oriental Mindoro
  • February 11, 2005, Esteban Pastor abducted and disappeared in San Luis, Aurora; and Emelio Ocenar in Pinabacdao, Samar
  • February 14, 2006, Raymond and Reynaldo Manalo abducted and disappeared in Bohol na Mangga, San Ildefonso, Bulacan
  • February 18, 2005 –brothers Sergio and Roger Viray abducted and disappeared in Masantol, Pampanga; and Rogelio Ladisa in Paranas, Samar
  • February 21, 2004 –Rolando Fortaliza and Jacqueline Paguntalan abducted and disappeared in Baybay, Leyte ###