HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Missing Leopoldo Ancheta
The family and friends
of desaparecido Leopoldo Ancheta remembers him as a loving father,
husband, brother, and a dedicated activist. As they marked his 59th
birthday – also the 158th day of his disappearance –they voiced out their
call to government abductors to surface him and vow to never stop seeking
BY DEE AYROSO
Ancheta-Macario, teary-eyed and with a trembling voice, sings: “Father,
don’t fade away from me, for you will always be, my sweetest memories... a
friend so dear to me.”
“Don’t fade away from me” was given a deeper meaning, sung by Glenda for
her father Leopoldo “Do” Ancheta, on Nov. 29, his 59th birthday which also
marked the 158th day of his disappearance.
Do was abducted last
June 24 in Tuktukan village, Guiguinto town in Bulacan province, south of
Manila. A report by Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s
Rights) said witnesses saw armed men force Do inside a silver Revo van
with no plate.
Do is an official of
the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) at the time of his
abduction, and is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity
Guarantees (JASIG) signed between the government and the NDFP. The
military denied having him in custody. Do has since been missing.
ako sa lahat na sana makita na namin si Lolo. Happy birthday, Lolo
(I’m appealing to all to help us find Grandfather),” said Pauline Claire,
Glenda’s 10-year-old daughter. On the fateful day of his abduction, Do
even took his granchildren Pauline and her brother Patrick Carl, 8, to a
mall in Metro Manila. He was abducted hours later in the late afternoon.
Glenda, Do’s only
child, was working in the United Arab Emirates when she learned of her
father’s abduction. “Para akong na-stroke, namanhid ang kalahati ng
katawan ko, sa sobrang emosyon na para kong maloloka,” (It was like
having a stroke. Consumed by emotion, half of my body was numb, I felt
like going crazy.) said Glenda.
Even though she had
been abroad for only two months, she decided to cut her contract short to
go back home and search for his father.
Leopoldo Ancheta!” (Surface
Leopoldo Ancheta!) chorused the Ancheta family and friends, along with the
Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (DESAPARECIDOS) at a gathering held
in Quezon City last Wednesday.
Do’s brother, Romeo,
said that Do became an activist when he was a high school student during
the pre-Martial Law days. In the 1970s, he became a member of the
Katipunang Kabataang Demokratiko (KKD or Organization of Democratic
Youth), and organized among communities. He was instrumental in the
formation of the Makabayang Anak ng Obrero (MAO or Patriotic Sons and
Daughters of Obrero) in Obrero village in Tondo, Manila.
Romeo recalled that
Do was always in the frontline during rallies and had weathered teargas
and police dispersals. When Martial Law was declared, many of Do’s
comrades were arrested, abducted or killed, but Do eluded arrest.
“Inakyat ang bahay
namin noon ng Metrocom, di nila nakita o nahuli si Do,” (The Metrocom
raided our home, but they were not able to arrest Do) Romeo said.
As Do went into
hiding from 1974 up to 1979, he became a low-profile organizer in
factories in Novaliches, Marikina and Quezon City. As the protest
movement gained ground in 1980, he joined labor leaders like Bert Olalia
to found the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May 1st Movement), and also the
transport organization Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors
Nationwide (PISTON or Federation of Associations of Drivers and Operators
Romeo said his
brother eventually went underground in the early 1980s.
Message from The
At the Nov. 29
gathering, Glenda received a phonecall from Luis Jalandoni, NDFP chief
negotiator in the peace talks who is based in The Netherlands. Jalandoni
had met Do when he worked for two years abroad as staff of the NDFP. He
did organizing work among Filipino seamen in Holland.
“Simple lang ang
kanyang pamumuhay. Wala siyang kotse ngunit nakuha niyang bisitahin ang
mga barko sa 40 kilometrong-habang daungan ng Rotterdam. Kinaibigan din
niya ang mga bumibisita sa barko at mga chaplain sa daungan.
Pinangalagaan at kinandili din niya ang mga mandaragat mula sa iba’t ibang
nasyonalidad,” (He led a simple life. He did not have a car but he
was able to travel the 40-kilometer stretch of the port in Rotterdam. He
also befriended the visitors in ships and the port chaplain. He looked
over the welfare of seamen of different nationalities.),” Jalandoni said.
In the NDFP
statement, Jalandoni condemned the enforced disappearance of Do, and other
NDFP officials and staff and their relatives who were all abducted in
June, namely Rogelio Calubad and his son Gabriel, Prudencio Calubid and
wife Celina Palma and niece Gloria Soco, and NDFP staff Ariel Beloy.
He said the NDFP had
proposed the formation of a joint fact finding mission to investigate the
disappearances. The NDFP proposal was sent in July to the government
monitoring Committee for the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). There had
been no response from the government, said Jalandoni.
The Ancheta family
filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court in
August. It was assigned to the Court of Appeals which denied the petition
in October. The petition named among the respondents now retired Maj.
Gen. Jovito Palparan, who was then commander of the 7th Infantry Division
which covers Central Luzon.
ngayon, limang buwan nang nakakaraan...di namin alam kung ano na ang
nangyari sa kanya. Pero ayaw kong mawalan ng pag-asa, ayaw kong isipin na
wala na siya! Hindi ako bibitiw! Alam ko na buhay pa ang kapatid ko at
lumalaban para sa kanyang buhay, sa karagdagang hininga upang kami ay
muling magkita-kita,” (Up to now, five months later, we don’t know
what happened to him. But I don’t want to lose hope, I don’t want to
think that he’s gone. I will not let go! I know that my brother is still
alive and he is fighting for his life, so that we will see each other
again!) said Romeo at the gathering.
“Ito lang ang
paalala ko sa mga dumukot sa kapatid ko: Sa bawat pagdukot, pagpatay at
pagtorture sa mga militante, may isa o dalawa o higit pa ang papalit upang
ituloy ang pakikibaka hanggang sa makamit ang tagumpay,”
(I would just like to tell my brother’s
abductors that for every activist disappeared, killed or tortured, one or
two or more will take his place to continue the struggle until the final
victory) Romeo added.
show that there are already 207 victims of enforced disappearance during
the six years under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The number is highest for
2006 with 93 abducted and disappeared.
As the Ancheta family
gathered and vowed to find Do and seek justice for desaparecidos like him,
then like Glenda’s appeal in her song, surely Do will not “fade away.”
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© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
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