Kin of desaparecidos to Pope Francis: ‘Help us search for our loved ones’

“In the name of God who is just, please grant justice to the missing.”

RONALYN V. OLEA | Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Guy Portajada wept as she looked at the photograph of her husband Armando Portajada Sr. who was abducted on July 31, 1987.

For 27 years, Guy and her family have never stopped hoping they would find Armando.

On Nov. 2, Guy and other families of desaparecidos gathered together at Plaza Miranda, lit candles and offered flowers for their missing loved ones.

This year’s reunion of Desaparecidos, an organization of families of victims of enforced disappearances, has become an occasion to appeal for Pope Francis’s help. They called on Pope Francis not only to help them in searching for their missing loved ones but also in ending the practice of enforced disappearances in the Philippines. According to Desaparecidos, there have been 21 victims of enforced disappearances under the Aquino administration.

Guy Portajada never loses hope of finding her missing husband, Armando Sr. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)

Mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and friends of the disappeared wrote personal letters to Pope Francis, who is set to visit the country in January 2015.

One of the mothers, Lolita Robiños, pins her hopes on Pope Francis. Her son Romulos was dragged by unknown men from their home in Angeles City on Nov. 17, 2006. Like the other families of the disappeared, Robiños went to military camps, police stations, hospitals, and the courts but to no avail. At one time, she even went to a popular public affairs program on television but she was ignored.

Robiños wrote, “In the name of God who is just, please grant justice to the missing.”

Frustrated

Another mother of the disappeared, Erlinda Cadapan, vented out her frustration at the Aquino administration.

Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn, who, along with Karen Empeño, was abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006, slammed what she calls as special treatment to retired Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.

Palparan is the primary suspect in the kidnapping and serious illegal detentions charges filed by Cadapan and Karen’s mother, Concepcion Empeño. The local court recently granted Palparan’s petition to transfer him to military detention.

Lolita Robiños, pins her hopes on Pope Francis. She has been looking for her son Romulos for more than eight years (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/ Bulatlat.com)

Cadapan said during the program, “Now we see how this government coddles a criminal who has killed and disappeared innocent people.”

In her letter to Pope Francis, Empeño wrote, “Help the people in authority, most especially President Benigno Aquino III, to be sensitive to the human rights violations in our country…”

There are those who search for more than one relative. Isa Calubad held the photographs of her father Rogelio and brother Gabriel who were abducted by suspected state agents on June 17, 2006 in Calauag, Quezon.

Ipe Soco held the photographs of her mother, Gloria Soco and his relatives Prudencio Calubid and Celina Palma who were abducted on June 26, 2006 along the Maharlika Highway near Sipocot, Camarines Sur.

Like Rogelio Calubad and Prudencio Calubid, Lorena Santos’s missing father, Leo Velasco is also a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Santos said that 11 NDFP consultants have been disappeared in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).

Never giving up

Santos, secretary general of Desaparecidos said that they have followed and listened to the statements of Pope Francis on justice and human rights. She said the Pope’s visit to the Philippines next year is an opportune time to voice out the injustice and rights violations in the Philippines.

For Empeño, chairwoman of Desaparecidos who travelled all the way from Masinloc, Zambales, the struggle of the families of the disappeared is a never-ending one.

Her voice breaking, Empeño said, “Only in occasions like this I am able to embrace Karen.”

They draw strength from one another and their hope never dies.

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Families of desaparecidos write letters to Pope Francis

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NEWS RELEASE
November 2, 2014

MANILA – “Your Holiness, please intercede for us in seeking justice for our disappeared loved ones,” wrote families of desaparecidos to Pope Francis as they gathered at Plaza Miranda on All Souls Day.

As a renewal of vows to seek justice, they lighted candles and offered flowers to remember those who were forcibly abducted and disappeared by state security forces since martial law up to the present.

“It has been the practice of families and relatives of victims of enforced and involuntary disappearances to gather every November 2. Beyond remembering, we come together as a reminder that our loved ones have yet to be surfaced and the state’s policy of enforced disappearances be stopped,” said Desaparecidos secretary general Aya Santos.

It has become more significant as families of desaparecidos gathered to join the nation in awaiting the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines in January 2015.

Santos explained they have followed and listened to series of statements Pope Francis on justice and human rights. For the families, his visit is an opportune time to voice out the injustice and rights violations in the Philippines.

“Hope springs when on several occasions he made clear his firm stands to defend human rights and in seeking social justice. We turn to the Pope for support because under the current regime of Noynoy Aquino, human rights violations against the people intensify without let up. We stand as testimonies to the gross situation of human rights here,” Santos said.

Santos said there have been 21 victims of abduction under Pres. Aquino and has since added up to the number of desaparecidos since the Marcos dictatorship.

Despite the passage of the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, the crime of enforced disappearance continues as a state policy under Oplan Bayanihan, Aquino’s counter-insurgency program. Also, as a DAP recipient program, it uses public funds to abduct, torture and disappear persons. It also uses funds to coddle the likes of butcher Jovito Palparan who is a ‘free man’ at Fort Bonifacio.

“We pray that the good Pope will listen to our plea and stand one with us in calling to stop enforced disappearances in the Philippines. Dear Pope, please heed our call for justice. We cry out to surface all the disappeared, in the Philippines and other parts of the world, such as in Latin America and Argentina, the Pope’s homeland,” said Santos.

Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis is from Argentina, a nation that also suffered the worst kind of human rights violations under a dictatorial rule in the 1970s. ###

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DAUGHTER OF ABDUCTED NDF CONSULTANT HITS AQUINO’S INUTILITY OVER CASES OF ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Malaya Intise, daughter of NDF consultant Federico Intise and Nelly Intese  Photo by KILAB Multimedia

Malaya Intise, daughter of NDF consultant Federico Intise and Nelly Intese
Photo by KILAB Multimedia

Press Release | KILAB Multimedia
October 29, 2014

“I felt the courage to speak up because of the firm commitment of my parents to serve the people. This makes me proud of them. The struggle must continue to attain justice.”

This was the statement of Malaya Intise, daughter of NDF consultant Federico Intise and Nelly Intese who were abducted eight years ago. Malaya recalled that her parents, together with Gloria Canaveral, were abducted in Sitio Putting Bato, Barangay Calumpang, General Santos City last October 26, 2006.

Malaya believes that the military were behind the enforced disappearances.

After eight years of living in fear, Malaya finally broke her silence to expose the inutility of the government in addressing the cases of enforced disappearances and breeding a culture of impunity.

She stressed that her father was supposedly protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) as an NDF consultant. She also recalled that during the Arroyo administration, there were a lot of children who lost their parents due to the counter-insurgency program dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

The OBL was meant to stop the revolutionary movement but in the process it targeted critics of the government including progressive organizations, peasants, indigenous peoples, lawyers, youth, among others. Under the Arroyo administration, not less than a thousand individuals became victims of human rights violations.

Meanwhile, Sr. Noemi Degala, Executive Secretary of Sister’s Association in Mindanao expressed support to the Intise family in their struggle. She said that this is part of their responsibility and duty to the people.

Sr. Degala also expressed dismay over the rampant abuses against the Filipino people. According to Degala, cases of enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and militarization continue under Aquino administration’s Oplan Bayanihan.

Based on Karapatan’s monitoring, 2 out of 17 cases of enforced disappearance were recorded in Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) while 25 out of 156 victims of extra-judicial killings were in SMR. The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) also revealed that not less than 15 of its consultants were detained.

Sr. Degala called on the GPH and NDFP to continue the peace talks. She believes that through this process, the people will arrive at solutions to their problems and achieve genuine peace. She also supported the call to free all political prisoners in order for peace negotiations to begin. ###

INTISE NELLY INTISE