August 30, 2011
Mary Guy Portajada,
Secretary General, Desaparecidos
09175415133/ 434 2837
On the International Day of the Disappeared
Families of Desaparecidos Slams continued inaction of PNoy Government on cases of disappearances
“What have you done for our missing loved ones?” Mary Guy Portajada, Secretary General of the Families of the Disappeared for Justice (Desaparecidos) asked President Benigno Simeon “Nonoy” C. Aquino, III during the human rights group’s commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared in front of Ever Gotesco Mall along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
“Enforced disappearances continue to this day, even after 206 victims of enforced disappearances have been documented during Gloria Arroyo’s term,” Portajada said, “There are now eight victims of enforced disappearance under PNoy. Where is justice?”
Families of Desaparecidos together with friends and supporters held a protest action in front of Ever Gotesco, where the abduction of missing activist Jonas Burgos took place. The group mounted a sign that says, “Mag-ingat sa Mandurukot: Dito dinukot ng mga militar si Jonas Burgos.” (Beware of abductors: Jonas Burgos was abducted here by the military)
Jonas was abducted four years ago, April 28, 2007 inside the said mall while having his lunch. Jonas is an activist teaching organic farming among peasants in Bulacan. He was never found. A Major Harry Baliaga of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is currently implicated in Jonas’ the abduction.
“This sign is a reminder to the public, that disappearances continue to happen, and that one can never be to sure of their own safety even under the PNoy administration,” warned Portajada. “And if President Noynoy remains inactive in pursuing justice for the missing, we have no choice but to rely on each other’s support.” She continued.
The human rights group expressed their alarm over the continuing incidence of enforced disappearances over the past year. “The persistence of this practice and the continuing reports of disappearances under the present regime, have diminished our faith of achieving justice for our loved ones under PNoy’s leadership.” Portajada said.
She further explains that the occurrence of abductions and enforced disappearances are only a result of the government’s anti-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. “No amount of repackaging can change the fact that anti-insurgency programs such as Oplan Bayanihan are designed to pacify and neutralize those who pose a threat to so-called government development programs. The state through its Armed Forces of the Philippines will continue to use whatever means it can to silence its critics.” Portajada said.
Desaparecidos vowed to continue its lobby work in Congress for the enactment into law of the bill criminalizing enforced disappearances as well as for Philippine government to ratify the UN Convention for the Protection of Persons against Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.
“Many among us have been searching for our loved ones for more than two decades now and we will not wait for a President who has only empty words to offer us. We will not stop looking for them and in achieving justice.” Portajada concluded ###