Desaparecidos

Statement of Desaparecidos on the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 and its IRR

The Families of Desaparecidos for Justice look forward to the day without enforced disappearances.

Yesterday, February 12, 2013, Desaparecidos co-signed the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the newly-enacted law called, the "Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012." We participated in the crafting of the IRR, after long years of advocacy and lobby work for the enactment of the law, because we view this engagement as part of the over-all enduring struggle for justice and human rights of victims and relatives, human rights advocates, and the Filipino people.

The Philippine government, through the law, officially recognized the criminal nature of the act of enforced disappearance – that enforced disappearance is a crime against persons, and that the perpetrators should be criminally liable and must be put to jail. Most importantly, the law’s acknowledgement that the said crime can only be perpetuated by State agents is an official admission and recognition that indeed, the State is most responsible in the commission of the crime of enforced disappearance. The law likewise recognizes that it is the State's responsibility to provide compensation, restitution and rehabilitation to victims of enforced disappearances and their families.

Since Marcos’ Martial Law and the series of administrations after it, including the present Noynoy Aquino government, such crime was and is being committed with impunity, with much brazenness and with full use of government resources against the very people whom government has supposedly sworn to protect.

After thousands of disappearances, anguish and immeasurable pain we bear as we waged a resolute, determined struggle for justice for our loved ones, finally, the country's recognition of this heinous crime proved us, families of the disappeared who fought and are still fighting, the correctness of our struggle for justice and human rights. 

We commend progressive legislators led by Bayan Muna Reps. Teodoro Casiño and Neri Colmenares, and allies in Congress who stood with us against those who tried to deny the State’s responsibility on this heinous crime by twisting the definition of enforced disappearances. Our progressive legislators took a hard stand in asserting that it is the State which has the obligation, authority, and machinery to protect the rights of its people.

But by using these machinery and authority to commit enforced disappearance to maintain the powers-that-be, the gravity of this act is incomparably heavier than those who committed the same but are private civilians or non-state agents. It is well that these sound and grounded arguments prevailed over those of some legislators posturing as human rights crusaders who would have wanted to dilute the State’s role and responsibility and defeat the whole purpose and principle of the measure.

Our organization, Desaparecidos, is determined to stand for this principle: that enforced disappearances is a systematic act and is perpetrated by State actors.

Two cases of disappearance reported to human rights groups after enactment of Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law

Case Update:

As of January 29, 2013, Muin Kahal Hamja was presented by the authorities and was brought to Basilan Provincial Jail where his brother Muhammadiya Hamja is also detained. Human rights workers in Basilan are still trying to get a copy of his charge sheet.

 

Unfortunately, Shiekh Bashier Mursalum remains missing. According to an eye witness, he was first gunned down by his abductors before he was picked up and brought inside the get away vehicle on the 24th of January. 

 

Karapatan and Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) deplored the abduction of Sheikh Bashier Mursalum and Muin Kahal Hamja, as these organizations add two more names to the long list of enforced disappearances in the country. The abduction happened after President Aquino signed the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012 in December.

“Muin Kahal and Mursalum’s disappearances show that the law itself is not a deterrent in the practice of enforced disappearance. This poses a challenge to the law against enforced disappearance and to the Aquino government to prosecute those who abducted and detained them,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general. “The law seems brave enough to make state agents criminally liable for the act of enforced disappearance but we have yet to see its enforcement,” Palabay added. 

Sheikh Bashier Mursalum, a muslim scholar, was abducted by state agents last January 22 in Basilan. On January 24, Muin Kahal Hamja was abducted by armed men at 2:00 AM in his home in Bgy. Kumalarang, Isabela City, Basilan.

“We initially welcomed this new law, but the rage in our hearts remains knowing that the families of Hamja and Mursalum are searching in vain for their loved ones,” Lorena Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos, said.

Muhammadiya Hamja, Muin Kahal’s brother, was also a victim of enforced disappearance in 2001 but was located by the quick reaction team composed of members of Karapatan, Muhammadiya’s son and Commission on Human Rights investigators. “We found him hidden and tortured inside the office of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Camp Crame, Philippine National Police Headquarters in Quezon City,” said Palabay.

Mothers of missing UP students ask Malolos court on its first hearing to bring surrendered soldiers back to regular jail

Today marks the first hearing at the Malolos City Regional Trial Court on the cases of kidnapping and serious illegal detention filed by the mothers of missing University of the Philippines activists Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno against "The Butcher" Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr., M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, and S/Sgt. Edgardo Osorio. 
 

Mothers of missing UP students call for people's manhunt for Palparan

We welcome the issuance of warrants of arrest for Ret. Major General Jovito Palparan, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario, and Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio for charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention of our daughters, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno.

Karapatan calls for the immediate arrest of Palparan, et al

Karapatan welcomes the resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) finding probable cause on the cases filed against Ret. Maj. General Jovito Palparan, Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado, Master Sergeant Rizal Hilario and Staff Sergeant Edgardo Osorio with two counts of kidnapping and serious Illegal Detention for the abduction of two missing UP students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006. The DOJ released the resolution on December 15.

GMA is P-Noy's smokescreen for rights violations under his administration

“PRESIDENT NOYNOY AQUINO conveniently uses GMA as a shield by endlessly harping on her crimes and wrongdoings as a subterfuge to evade taking responsibility for human rights violations committed by his administration and its inability to solve any of the country’s basic problems. No amount of political manipulation or attempt to project himself as a protagonist in the quest for justice against GMA can dispel the truth that he continues Arroyo’s legacy of state terror through Oplan Bayanihan.”Jigs Clamor, Deputy Secretary General of Karapatan, made the statement as human rights and people’s organizations led by Karapatan and Bayan marched today from Blumentritt to Mendiola to commemorate International Human Rights Day.

“GMA has been a convenient smokescreen to blur the spotlight on P-Noy.  For instance, Malacañang benefits from all the fuss about Arroyo’s transfer to the presidential suite of the veteran’s hospital because it hides the fact that his government has been sorely remiss in promptly prosecuting and putting Arroyo to jail,” Clamor explained.

Palparan and his men must face a swift trial towards imprisonment

Today is the first hearing in the Department of Justice’s preliminary investigation on the criminal case against Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.  and the other officers and men of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the continued disappearance of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.  "If presented with a chance, how we would love to let Palparan, Jr and the other AFP men feel the pain they inflicted on our daughters, but we know they deserve more punishment than that," mothers of the missing University of the Philippines students said during the hearing. 

Mrs. Erlinda T. Cadapan and Mrs. Concepcion E. Empeño filed criminal cases of rape, serious physical injuries, arbitrary detention and maltreatment of prisoners against retired General Palparan, Jr. and other members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines namely, Lieutenant Colonels Rogelio Boac and Felipe Anotado, 2nd Lieutenant Francis Mirabelle Samson, Master Sergeants Donald Caigas and Rizal Hilario.

Panata ng Dalawang Ina

Walang inang hindi maghahanap sa kanyang nawawalang anak. Kahit gaano man ito katagal o gaano man ito kahirap. Hindi mawawala sa puso ng inang tulad ko ang pag-asang mahahanap ko si Sherlyn at ang kasama niyang si Karen Empeño at makakamit namin ang katarungan. 

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES CONTINUE WITH IMPUNITY UNDER PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, we commend the Filipino people’s militant struggle for freedom and democracy and their international solidarity for defending and asserting human rights. This struggle has become more important and necessary with the worsening human rights violations and continuing impunity under the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

Families of desaparecidos march to Mendiola

 

Noynoy, where is justice?

Families of desaparecidos called on the Aquino administration to act immediately to surface all victims of enforced disappearances, as they march to Mendiola on the International Day of the Disappeared.  

Led by Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice), families brought masks bearing the faces of the 206 victims disappeared during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime. 

Desaparecidos deputy secretary general Lorena Santos criticized the continued silence and inaction of the Aquino government on the cases of enforced disappearances. 

“How can we truly believe that Pres. Noynoy Aquino is sincere in resolving cases of human rights violatios, if it continues to be silent on the thousands of human rights violations under Arroyo? How can we be at peace if Arroyo and her former minions who were behind extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances are comfortably sitted in the halls of Congress,” Santos said. 

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