The Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos-Philippines) congratulates the Amancio Samuel Villatoro Foundacion (FASV) on its second founding anniversary. We also join the Villatoro family in remembering the disappearance of Guatemala’s labor leader Amancio Villatoro on January 30.
Desaparecidos-Philippines truly admire Amancio for the principles he stood up for, which was also the reason why he became a target of the Guatemalan government that led to his disappearance and eventual assassination in 1984. We want to express our admiration to the Villatoro family, that through the Museum of Martyrs of the Labor Student and Popular Movement of Guatemala, they are able to share to the public the remains of Amancio, his principles and struggles, and the legacy of the valiant struggle of the Guatemalan people against tyranny and oppression. Indeed, Amancio and other desaparecidos in Guatemala will never be forgotten. Amancio would have been proud of his sons and daughters who held same principles for national and social liberation as they fight for justice and human rights.
In the Philippines, the fight for human rights and justice for victims of human rights violations is an ongoing struggle. Although the Philippine government boasts of the enactment of a law that criminalizes enforced disappearances, the crime still persists even to the present day. Karapatan, a non-government organization that documents State perpetrated rights violations in the Philippines, reported that there were 19 victims of enforced disappearances (who remain missing) under the Benigno Aquino regime. Through the years, there were around 2,000 documented victims of enforced disappearance since the 1960’s, when documentation of such crime started.
None of the perpetrators—the military and police who abducted and concealed the whereabouts of our relatives—were sent to jail for the crime they committed. Instead, the perpetrators were promoted to key positions and are now enjoying more power to perpetuate more human rights violations.
The people of Guatemala and the Philippines, and in many struggling countries, share the same pain of losing many of our great men and women who fought against US hegemony and for liberation. We owe to our disappeared loved ones to carry on the struggle and achieve in our lifetime, if possible, the kind of society that our loved ones fought for.
The Desaparecidos extends our solidarity with the FASV in the struggle for human rights and supports its initiatives in collecting historical memories of the Guatemalan victims. Let us strengthen our ties through coordinated actions in the Philippines and Guatemala in calling for JUSTICE.
Both our initiatives for justice and human rights in our countries and solidarity actions for victims’ organizations in other countries will count as contribution to the global movement for genuine change.###