By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Families of the disappeared commemorate their loved ones on All Souls Day, decrying what they described as the “state’s apparent disregard for accountability and justice.”
Every year, the families of the disappeared remember their loved ones on November 2.
“Today, we commemorate the memories and the bravery of our friends and family members who were forcibly taken from us, despite not having any graves to visit nor any idea about their whereabouts,” said Erlinda Cadapan, national chairperson of the group Desaparecidos, in a statement.
“We also honor and remember those deceased relatives of desaparecidos who tirelessly demanded justice and answers about their loved ones, ” Cadapan added.
Cadapan is the mother of Sherlyn Cadapan, a student at the University of the Philippines (UP) who went missing together with another student, Karen Empeño, and peasant farmer Manuel Merino in San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006.
The group lamented that despite the enactment of RA 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, cases of enforced disappearances continue.
Cadapan condemned what she viewed as “government’s obvious disinterest in resolving cases of enforced disappearances through the years.”
She added that the Philippine government did not sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED).
The ICPPED was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2006. At least 98 UN state members have signed the convention and 68 have ratified it.
“This, together with the recent cases of abduction and the absence of action in solving other pending cases, evidently shows the state’s apathy towards us and its palpable lack of commitment to justice and accountability,” Cadapan said.
“Moreover, we fear that such cases will increase under this administration, considering its penchant for human rights violations and disinformation. We strongly echo the call to surface Ador, Elizabeth, and all our loved ones,” she stressed.
Alipio “Ador” Juat and Elizabeth “Loi” Magbanua went missing on May 3.
According to the group’s data, about 1,900 victims of enforced disappearance since Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s dictatorial rule.
Under Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration, peasant organizers Elgene Mungcal and Elena Cortez Pampoza reportedly went missing on July 3 and have yet to be found.
Despite challenges, Cadapan said they will never give up on their quest to find their loved ones and demand for justice. She said that now is not the time to cower in the face of a massive campaign to distort facts and history.
“We will not let our loved ones’ sacrifices be in vain. We vow to continue to speak our truths and strengthen our demand for justice and accountability. We also urge the public to join and support us in our calls,” she said.