By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Families of victims of enforced disappearances continued the cry for justice for their kin as they lashed out at President Duterte for continuing what has been called the cruelest form of human rights violation.
On the International Day of the Disappeared today, Aug. 30, families of victims renewed calls to surface the disappeared, or desaparecidos, numbering roughly 1,800, who went missing from the Marcos Dictatorship and throughout the succeeding administrations.
Under President Duterte, human rights group Karapatan documented four desaparecidos: Manobos Davis Mogul (earlier reported as David) and Maki Bail, Maranao child Saypudin Rascal, and peasant Jennifer Yuson. All four belong to the most marginalized sectors: the indigenous Lumad, Moro child and peasant woman. Ironically, three of them came from Mindanao.
“President Duterte has destroyed the road to just and lasting peace, while we continue to search for justice under this regime that has continued the same callous policy of abductions, rights violations and fascist rule,” said Concepcion Empeño, chairperson of the Families of the Disappeared for Justice, or Desaparecidos.
Empeño’s daughter Karen has been missing for 11 years, along with fellow University of the Philippines student Sherlyn Cadapan.
Members of the Desaparecidos commemorated the day with a gathering at the Lumad camp in th University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon city.
Mindanaoan desaparecidos under the first Mindanaoan president
The first two victims under Duterte were disappeared last year: Manobo farmers Davis Mogul, 24, and Maki Bail, 36, who were abducted on Nov. 14, 2016 by suspected security guards of David M. Consunji (DMCI).
The two are residents of sitio (subvillage) Tinukeg, Margues village in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat province and belong to the Lumad group Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo (Keduma). The group has opposed the logging and mining operations of DMCI in Manobo ancestral lands.
In its 2016 yearend report, Karapatan said the two men were in sitio Tanghal at around 5 p.m., when they were forced to board a motorcycle driven by DMCI guards, Onteng Saliling and Bibang Galing. Mogul and Bail were supposed to buy food in bulk for the next day’s farm work. They were never seen again.
A Keduma leader, John Calaba was disappeared in 2015, after being last seen with DMCI guards.
Maranao child Saypudin Rascal, 13, was disappeared at the start of the military offensive in Marawi City. Karapatan said Rascal’s disappearance was among the accounts gathered during the first National Interfaith Humanitarian Mission (NIHM) in late June.
On May 23, Idris Rascal, 55, and his son Jalal, 25, were about to evacuate from their house in Marawi City when a bomb hit the structure while the two were still inside. Jalal’s son, Saypudin tried to return to the house, but was taken by soldiers.
“Saypudin has yet to be found, and the bodies of Idris and Jalal have yet to be recovered,” Karapatan said in its report.
Peasant woman Jennifer Yuson, 22, was arrested by soldiers on March 7 this year, along with her father Jose “Teteng” Yuson, and Christopher Redota, 26. The three were at a meeting along with several others in a hut in Camflora village in San Andres, Quezon when soldiers of the 85th infantry battalion fired at them, wounding Jennifer in the left arm.
The same soldiers had just clashed with members of the New People’s Army in the vicinity. The three civilians were reportedly brought to Camp Guillermo Nakar, in Lucena City, Quezon, but the military only gave denials to the groups searching for them.
According to the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog, the elder Yuson and Redota were later found detained at the Quezon Provincial Jail and charged with trumped-up criminal cases, while Jennifer was supposedly turned over to the local Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and then brought home. Karapatan reported that Jennifer remains missing, as human rights workers have failed to get in touch with her and the rest of her family.
Cruelest form of human rights violations
The Spanish term desaparecidos came from Latin America, where enforced disappearances became a phenomenon, as military juntas ordered the abduction, torture and killing of activists in secret hiding places during the 1980s. Not only does the state get to silence dissenters, it also sows uncertainty, terror and fear, as well as avoid accountability.
Enforced disappearance deprives the victim the right to liberty, personal security, humane treatment, fair trial, equal protection under the law, and ultimately, the right to life. Not only the victims’ rights are violated, as their families are tortured by thoughts of their loved ones’ fate, burdened with the endless search for their remains, and in many cases, threatened by the perpetrators of the disappearance.
In the Philippines, there were 759 documented disappeared from 1971 to 1986 under the Marcos Dictatorship, but these continued in the succeeding administrations: 810 victims under the Corazon Aquino administration; 19 under Ramos; 38 under Estrada’s three-year term; 202 under Arroyo’s nine years; and 29 under Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
Peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) were among those disappeared under the Arroyo administration, including Cesar Batralo, Leo Velasco, Rogelio Calubad who was disappeared with his son Gabriel, Philip Limjoco, Leopoldo Ancheta, spouses Federico and Nelly Intise, and Prudencio Calubid who was disappeared with his wife, Celina Palma, niece Gloria Soco and NDFP staff Ariel Beloy.
(Updated: Aug. 31, 2017, 6 p.m.)