Kin demand justice for victims of enforced disappearances

Emmanuel Louis Bacani | Sunnex

HUMAN rights advocates and a progressive group marked on Thursday the “International Day of the Disappeared” with a demand for justice to the victims of enforced disappearances in the country.

In a program at Plaza Miranda in Manila, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and human rights group Karapatan joined families of the disappeared in paying tribute and demanding justice for the victims of alleged abductions and disappearances.

The long list of victims includes Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, students of the University of the Philippines.

“Enforced disappearance is such a heinous crime which tortures the families of the victims who continue to search for their loved ones,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.

The groups also condemned the alleged failure of authorities to go after those behind the abductions and disappearances.

“Injustice prevails with the failure of the government to hold accountable the perpetrators of this heinous crime,” he added.

Reyes noted for instance the case of former general and now fugitive Jovito Palparan, who is believed to be responsible for the abduction and torture of Cadapan and Empeño.

He said Palparan, who remains at large, “has mocked the entire justice system.”

Cadapan and Empeño were reportedly doing field work in 2006 when they were allegedly abducted by gunmen from their rented house in Hagonoy, Bulacan province.

Last year, the Supreme Court ordered the military to surface the two students and named Palparan and five others as responsible for their disappearance.

According to the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (Find), a nationwide organization of families, friends, and colleagues of disappeared victims, there have been 2,201 cases of enforced disappearances since the Martial Law years under President Ferdinand Marcos.

Find added that it has documented 1,838 cases of disappearance as of June 29.

Of this figure, 1,147 victims are still missing, 435 surfaced alive, while 256 were found dead.

The Marcos regime registered the highest number of disappearance cases with 878 followed by the 614 cases documented during President Cory Aquino’s administration.

The group recorded 182 cases during the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo while there are currently 12 alleged victims of disappearances under the two-year old administration of President Benigno Aquino III.

The Philippines is yet to enact a law that criminalizes enforced disappearances. In 2011, the Senate passed its version of such legislation while the House of Representatives passed a similar bill last March.

The first International Day for the Victims of Enforced Disappearances was marked by the United Nations in August 30, 2011.

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