Two widows of Cordillera activists who fell victim to extra-judicial killings are losing hope that the present administration – led by a mother like them – would resolve their husbands’ killings, which took place more than three years ago. As March is Women’s Month, these widows have presently intensified their demand for justice for their husbands and other victims of extra-judicial killings, now numbering more than 900, under the Arroyo administration.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – Two widows of Cordillera activists who fell victim to extra-judicial killings are losing hope that the present administration – led by a mother like them – would resolve their husbands’ killings, which took place more than three years ago.
As March is Women’s Month, these widows have presently intensified their demand for justice for their husbands and other victims of extra-judicial killings, now numbering more than 900, under the Arroyo administration.
Albina Teradaño, wife of Abra Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) employee and human rights leader Albert, said she still hopes for justice for her husband’s killing. But without as yet any development on her husband’s case and with the turtle-paced justice system, she is slowly losing hope that there is still a chance for her husband’s case to be resolved.
“Intalek kon ti amin ken Apo ta isun ti makaammu ti amin” (I already left the case unto the Lord and look to Him for any resolution of the case of my husband), she said.
On the other hand, the widow of Jose “Pepe” Manegdeg III, Dom-an, said that the administration’s handling of the extra-judicial killings is a double-edged sword.
“It could be fatal or healing, deceptive or persuasive, but the Arroyo clique is still decisive in spite of the presence of a few good government officials,” she said.
The Teredaño and Manegdeg cases
Manegdeg was the Ilocos-Cordillera regional coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), a national church people’s organization, when he was brutally killed at 10 p.m. on Nov. 28, 2005 in Barangay (village) Apatot, San Esteban, Ilocos Sur. He sustained 22 bullet wounds.
Ten hours after Manegdeg was killed, Teradaño was shot by motor riding assassins in Bangued, Abra. He was a convener of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage), being an employee of DAR-Abra, and also a human rights volunteer and advocate for the Cordillera Indigenous Law Center and Abra Human Rights Advocates.
At present, Albina said, that there is no development on the case of her husband Albert.
Manegdeg’s case has a lone witness. The witness however retracted his sworn statement, leading the Provincial Prosecutor of Ilocos Sur to dismiss the complaint in relation with the alleged perpetrator, an army captain.
Both the killings were tagged by human rights groups in Ilocos and Cordillera as politically-motivated. They said that international instruments define an extra-judicial killing as a deliberate and unjustified execution of a person perpetrated or allowed by persons whose actions are supported by the state or some official authority, but who are acting outside the legal system.
The present administration is allegedly accountable for the extra-judicial killings.
Dom-am said that the victims/survivors are doubly vulnerable from counter-actions by the perpetrators and their institutions. She pointed out that the state in these cases should be held accountable.
The widows who lost their breadwinner husbands are trying all means to cope up with the loss.
“Narigat ti single parent ngem ikarkarigatak lang” (It is hard to be a single parent but I’m doing my best for the survival of my family), Albina said.
She receives a small amount in exchange for her work as a Parish Catechist in their place and a small amount from the SSS. Her priority is the future of her two kids, the first now a fourth-year agricultural student while the second is a junior high school student.
The same is being experienced by Dom-an, who is now trying to engage herself in organic farming. She failed to save for her family when she worked as domestic helper in Hongkong, as she was terminated by her employer in 2005.
After a year or two of being “on the run” due to the threat to her family, her kids returned to school. The first of their two daughters is scheduled to graduate from elementary school this summer.
“I wish I could keep dancing and singing between the two edges of the sword or better yet be a master of the sword-words to keep my neck out of harm,” she said.
The call for justice for the victims of extra-judicial killings is being waged in various venues including in the United Nations and elsewhere in the international community, according to human rights and church groups.
Other victims of extra-judicial killings in the Cordillera and Ilocos include Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) leader Marcus Bangit; Alyce Claver who was killed in an ambush in Tabuk, Kalinga; Romy Sanchez who was shot in broad day light in Baguio City, Roger Mariano who was ambushed in Ilocos, among others.
These cases have yet to be resolved and widows and women call this month on the government to concretely act on these cases. Northern Dispatch / Posted byBulatlat.com