PHOTOS BY AYA SANTOS
TEXT BY DEE AYROSO
They came together with one thing in mind: justice for their kin.
The names were written in white letters on 10 pieces of black tarpaulin. Hanging from steel bars, the tarp looked like gravestones in the middle of the plaza in front of the Sta. Cruz church in Manila.
The names, more than 500 of them, belonged to victims of summary executions from 2001 to the present, perpetrated by suspected military and police elements under the Arroyo administration.
Human rights alliance Karapatan led the victims’ families and activists in a gathering on the morning of May 20, as they hail the victims of killings as “heroes of the people.”
Curious passers-by stop to read the names, or to look at the faces of some of the victims, printed on large tarpaulins which were laid on the ground.
It was the second time since April that the families of killings and forced disappearances had gathered, to speak out, and hearten each other as they seek justice for their kin.
They were from different provinces, from different sectors of society. There were the widows, mothers, orphaned children, wives searching their husbands, all victims too, as much as those who were killed or abducted.
Party-list representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Joel Virador of Bayan Muna (People First) and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) were present, and had donned white vests with target marks.
“They told us we should forgive and forget, but nobody has actually asked for our forgiveness,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan secretary general and a victim of the Marcos Dictatorship. She said that through the past regimes, justice has eluded the victims and their families. Enriquez said that through the people’s continuous and collective action, justice will eventually be served.
“Huwag tayong matakot sa gobyerno,” said Romy Ramos, elder brother of Ricardo Ramos, president of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union who was killed in October 2005 by suspected soldiers. He said their whole family is continuing Ka Ric’s fight. (Bulatlat.com)