Relatives of desaparecidos, or those who were abducted and missing, paid tribute to their loved ones and vowed to fight for justice on the International Day of the Disappeared today, even as human rights workers fear there will be more victims of abduction and killings under the Arroyo administration.
Some 2,000 activists and relatives of desaparecidos and victims of political killings filled Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila for an interfaith mass led by religious leaders of Catholic, Protestant and Muslim faiths. Red and white candles were lit and roses were placed beside the pictures of desaparecidos and martyrs of political killings.
At the program before the mass, a human rights worker read the names of all 181 desaparecidos under the Arroyo administration, to which the crowd shouted “Ilitaw!” (Surface him!) to each name read.
Jigs Clamor, deputy secretary general of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights) said the human rights violations continue in spite the formation of the Melo commission which was tasked to investigate the political killings.
Clamor said that Karapatan had recorded some 7,000 cases of human rights violations under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He added that the only way for the rights abuses to stop is with the ouster of the Arroyo administration.
Erlinda Cadapan, mother of missing student Sherlyn Cadapan, decried the junking of the impeachment and vowed to take her cause to the streets. She also called Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Army’s 7th Infantry Division commander, “a coward” because he never showed up at the hearings of the habeas corpus petition which she filed with another family.
Sherlyn was abducted early morning of June 26 with Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino in Hagonoy town, Bulacan province by suspected military men.
Father Joe Dizon, convenor of Kairos Philippines and an activist since Martial Law, said that the disappearances and killings under the Arroyo administration are meant to eliminate a generation of leaders, just like what the Marcos Dictatorship did during Martial law.
“Kasalanan ni Marcos kaya wala tayong lider ngayon na matino, at ito rin ang kasalanan ni Gloria Arroyo, henerasyon ng mga lider ang pinapatay niya.” (It was Marcos’ fault that we have no righteous leaders today, and it is also what Gloria Arroyo is doing, she is killing a generation of leaders.)
Dizon said that the Melo commission can show its sincerity by summoning President Arroyo and Palparan first in the investigation.
Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona also honored the victims of killings. “I salute the 743 unsung martyrs, and we will not stop until justice is met…. I promise I will fight all the way!”
Cadapan said that with the continued abductions and killings, the government clearly does not protect the people.”Tayo ang magbibigay ng proteksyon sa isa’t isa, at sana di tayo mawalan ng pag-asa.” (Only we can protect each other, and we should not lose hope.) Bulatlat