Chief of Intelligence Gen. Eduardo Año, Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan, “Maj. Harry Baliaga, ex-Gov. Joel Reyes and all those like them are the present-day real life monsters,” Lorena “Aya” Santos, secretary general of Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) said in a program at the Baclaran Redemptorist Church.
“They abduct, torture, keep you away from your loved ones or kill you,” Santos said. “Unfortunately, despite their crimes these evil monsters are still out there hiding or pretending to be humans until their next victim,” Santos added.
Relatives and friends of the disappeared gather every 2nd of November to remember their missing loved ones. “We have no graves to visit for we never found the bodies of our relatives and friends, so we light candles here in Baclaran Church as our way of remembering them,” Santos said.
Gen. Eduardo Año, one of those charged for the abduction and disappearance of agriculturist Jonas Burgos was dropped from the charge list, along with other high military officials. Maj. Harry Baliaga, the only soldier who was charged for the abduction of Burgos had recently posted a P40,000 bail. Retired Gen. Palparan, implicated on the abduction and disappearance of two UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, remains a fugitive while, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, implicated in the killing of environmentalist Gerry Ortega, is also in hiding.
Desaparecidos recently called Baliaga’s bail as an escape from prosecution. “We are outraged to see that every single perpetrator of enforced disappearances are given shield to elude prison. Yet, it is even more enraging that apart from letting these monsters go free, BS Aquino promotes them in positions that empower them more,” Santos said.
“The latest victim of enforced disappearance is Ben Villeno, a long time trade union leader in Southern Tagalog,” Santos mentioned. Villeno, 43, was abducted on August 27, 2013 while on his way to a relative’s house in Cavite. He was able to send a text message to inform a colleague that he was being tailed. Villeno lost contact since then. Apparently, he did not reach his relative’s house and he remains missing to date.
Villeno experienced several incidents of harassments and surveillances even during the Arroyo regime. “But, it is under this current regime that boasts of an Anti-Disappearance law that Villeno became a victim of enforced disappearance. It shows that BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan is just as brutal as Oplan Bantay Laya,” Santos continued. “The Aquino government should be held accountable especially now that Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law is in place.”
“Like many desaparecidos, we still hope that Villeno is alive,” Santos said. “We are calling on any person who may know his whereabouts to inform us or Villeno’s family immediately,” Santos said.
The group Desaparcidos called on the Aquino government and all those in-charge of detention places, declared or undeclared, to abide by their own law, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Law. Desaparecidos also demanded from the Aquino government to “Surface Ben Villeno and all desaparecidos! Stop enforced disappearances! Prosecute all perpetrators!” ###
Reference: Lorena “Aya” Santos, Secretary General, 0908-8121982