November 2, 2010
Mary Guy Portajada, Secretary General
Lorena P. Santos, Deputy Secretary General
Families of desaparecidos remember the missing on All Souls Day
“This is the saddest time of the year,” Mary Guy Portajada, Secretary General of Families of the Disappeared for Justice (Desaparecidos) said at the Baclaran Redemptorist Church as their group gather during All Souls’ Day.
“We are torn between grieving for a loss of a loved one while still hoping to see them alive one day. Should we light candles and offer prayers and flowers on this day like what the whole nation does for the departed?” These are questions relatives of the disappeared always ask, a manifestation of their continued suffering over their missing love ones.
“We do not go to the cemeteries for the disappeared has no grave, but rather we come here to Baclaran Church to remember the missing,” Mary Guy explains. Families of desaparecidos have found a home for their annual gatherings at the said church. Like them, the Catholic Congregation lost Fr. Rudy Romano, a Redemptorist priest who was abducted during the Martial Law years and remains missing to this day.
Mary Guy’s father Armando has been missing for 22 years. She was 12 years old when her father did not arrive at her school to pick her up and walk her home. She realized Armando was abducted by armed men when she came home. Mary Guy, now 32 years is spending every All Souls’ Day at the Baclaran church with other families of the disappeared. They usually bring photos of their missing loved ones, offer flowers and light a candle for them.
This year, the group Desaparecidos is staging a short program in between masses to remember the disappeared and at the same time to register their call for justice. As in the movie “Dukot” the group mounted a torture chamber where a dummy is seated blindfolded and handcuffed under a dim light. They say this is to portray how their missing families may have suffered under the custody of government forces.
According to Desaparecidos, so many decades have passed yet enforced disappearances continue in the Philippines. For the group, even under a new regime who promised to uphold human rights, two cases of enforced disappearances in a span of its first 100 days in office have already been recorded.
“We call on the Philippine legislators, on both houses, to immediately pass the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Bill, and for the Pnoy Government to sign the United Nations’ International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances,” Mary Guy says.
As part of their campaign to bring justice for their love ones, the group together with Bayan Muna and other progressive Partylists Representatives filed before Congress in August this year House Bill 3046.
“Today, as the whole nation remembers the lives of those who have departed, we commemorate the missing. We light a candle not for their souls to rest in peace but to shed light on their way home. We offer flowers not because we believe that they are no longer with us but because they are deeply missed by their loved ones,” Mary Guy says. She ends by saying, “Stop enforced disappearances! Surface the disappeared! sJustice for all victims!”###