News in Pictures: Remembering, Honoring Women Victims of Rights Abuses

Text and photos by ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL

MANILA — November 29 became a day of songs, poems and testimonies remembering and honoring women victims of human rights abuses, as women rights group Tanggol Bayi and families of victims of human rights violations led the commemoration of the International Day for Women Human Rights Defenders.

Cristina Palabay, convenor of Tanggol Bayi, said that there is no single case of human rights abuse allegedly committed by the state against the defenders of human rights that has been resolved.

“Not one of the perpetrators of these gruesome executions, enforced disappearances, torture and illegal arrests has been accountable by the government of Aquino,” Palabay said in a statement.

According to Tanggol Bayi, under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term, 153 women were victims of extrajudicial killing, 31 of enforced disappearance, while 63 women political prisoners who are victims of illegal arrest and detention continue to languish in jails and detention centers.

The women rights group also honored the brave women defenders of human rights who were killed, tortured and also those who were detained for doing their work by upholding people’s basic human rights. They also gave salute to the women defenders of human rights who were not in jail but rights are also violated by being an advocate of human rights.

Lorena Santos, daughter of Leo Velasco also saluted the families of victims who went on to the struggle of their missing loved ones. “This day is also for the wives, daughters, and sisters who took the courage to take part of the struggle for justice not only for our loved ones but to other victims as well.” Velasco is a consultant of National Democratic Front of Philippines (NDFP) and went missing in Feb. 2007 by alleged agents of the state.

There are 3,280 cases of threats, harassment and intimidation according to Karapatan. These also include the human rights defenders who were charged with fabricated cases while there are 16 victims of torture among the 23 who were illegally arrested since July 2010.

“As the violation of human rights continues not only of women but also of men, the human rights defenders will still fight for justice no matter what,” said Gurley Padilla of Tanggol Bayi. (

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