Escaped Desaparecido guides fact-finding team to former army camp

 

CHR Chairperson Leila de Lima inspects the excavation site with Karapatan Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez on October 13, 2008 at the former 24th IBPA detachment in Brgy. Bliss Limay, Bataan

CHR Chairperson Leila de Lima inspects the excavation site with Karapatan Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez on October 13, 2008 at the former 24th IBPA detachment in Brgy. Bliss Limay, Bataan.

 

A week after the Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals (CA) decision granting the
privilege of the writ of amparo to the two survivor-witnesses Manalo brothers, one of them
leads a fact-finding mission team to the former 24th Infantry Battalion detachment where he
witnessed several extrajudicial killings committed by the military.

The fact-finding mission team is composed of leading human rights group Karapatan, the
Con-mñssion on Human Rights (CHR) and the Senate Committee on Justice and Human
Rights. Forensic and anthropology doctors will lend their expertise to the mission. Families
of victims of enforced disappearance under the banner of Desaparecidos likewise joined the
mission.

Guided by the sketch drawn by the escaped survivor, they were able to locate the site where,
according to the survivor, he saw Merino being burned and where other captives were killed
or brought dead by soldiers when the latter arrived from so-called "military operations."

Excavation will be made in search of evidence that could further corroborate the credible
testimony of Manalo and help trace the victims and their identities. Manalo's survival is
strong evidence that state security forces who formerly occupied the site have used the place
as detention area as well as a place to torture and keep incommunicado the victims of
enforced disappearance.

Karapa tan sought the help of both the CHR and the Senate Committee on Justice in July and
September, respectively, to recover evidences so as to pursue the search for the two missing
women and launch the campaign against impunity by pressing charges against identified
perpetrators by gathering solid evidence in the site.

More than three weeks have passed since the CA issued its decision on the petition for the
writ of amparo for Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel. The decision, stated ". . . there is now a clear and
credible evidence that the three missing persons, Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Em peño and Manuel
Merino, are being detained in military camps and bases under the 7th Infantry Division. Being not
held for lawful cause, they should be immediately released from detention."

Three days after, on September 20, the Philippine Army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Romeo
Brawner issued a statement that the three missing persons were nowhere to be found in any
army camp where their relatives and supporters claimed they were detained.

The continuous denial of the military and the failure to produce the three missing persons
makes the mission all the more pressing in getting justice for the victims.