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.”


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 /

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.”


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/

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.

Palparan’s transfer to Philippine Army Custodial Center, injustice to victims

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Press Statement |
September 15, 2014
Today’s decision of the Malolos Court to transfer “The Butcher” Jovito Palparan to the custody of the Philippine Army from the Bulacan Provincial Jail bodes evil to the hundreds of victims of the retired general and his ilk in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“The AFP moved heaven and earth to secure and bring back home their impunity icon Palparan. Although not surprising as it is packaged with Palparan’s supposed arrest, the transfer is nonetheless ominous for the case’s trial, eventual prosecution, and jailing of Palparan,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
“AFP chief of staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang, 10th ID and former ISAFP chief Eduardo Año, and DND secretary Voltaire Gazmin have been building up towards this transfer, using the worn-out alibi, if not imagined, ‘threat to the safety and security’ of Palparan,” she added.
Palabay said the BS Aquino regime never thought of the safety and security of its citizens not only in terms of the pervading criminality but also in terms of the continuing rights violations. “Yet, The Butcher Palparan, with hundreds of victims of human rights violations, gets top priority for protection, not unlike the treatment the plunderers get in this rotten regime.”
The BS Aquino regime and the AFP will never ever allow the likes of Palparan be jailed, “because the arrest and jailing of Palparan is an indictment of the whole AFP, which abounds with Palparan clones.”  ###
Reference:    Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
              Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Palparan transfer to military camp a realignment of the cosmos

How can something so routinary such as the detention of one man accused of horrific crimes against humanity be so complicated and fussy as to compel the realignment of the cosmos and tripping over of the government all over itself to suit his convenience and preference? This will serve as a bad precedent and example for all those who can wreak evil and get concessions along the way.

Palparan’s transfer to Philippine Army Custodial Center, based on alleged threats that have been proven in court today to be all speculative, does not answer the question of why a civilian should be detained in a military facility. Why, for heaven’s sake, in all places his old stomping grounds the headquarters of the Army?

It just doesn’t make sense.

Palparan and his gang, as well as his padrinos in high places, will be having a bacchanalian party tonight and high fives among themselves because the system has again  worked in favor of the rich, powerful, influential and with connections.

Yet again, what do we seek: justice for the victims or convenience for the accused? Indeed there is so much to be distressed, yet so much to fight for.#

Private Prosecutors by:
Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Secretary General

Palparan’s homecoming to military custody shows arrest was staged – Anakbayan

September 15, 2014

Jovito Palparan’s transfer to military HQ is Daang Matuwid-style VIP treatment for human rights violators. This homecoming is a grave insult to the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings, human rights abuse, torture and disappearances.

This shows that the “arrest” of Palparan was only a show staged to salvage Aquino’s popularity. The script: he was to be arrested only to be taken home again under the special care of his fascist barkada. Aquino should be held accountable for coddling Palparan and continuing the fascist rampage against the people under his Oplan Bayanihan.

- Vencer Crisostomo, Anakbayan national chairperson, 09399207114, @venzie

Bukas na Liham kay Pang. Noynoy Aquino sa kanyang Ikalimang SONA

FILE PHOTO: Simbolikong inaresto nina Connie Empeno at Linda Cadapan si Jovito Palparan, ang dating heneral ng militar na itinuturong dumukot sa dalawang aktibista noong Hunyo 26, 2006. (Macky Macaspac)

FILE PHOTO: Simbolikong inaresto nina Connie Empeno at Linda Cadapan si Jovito Palparan, ang dating heneral ng militar na itinuturong dumukot sa dalawang aktibista noong Hunyo 26, 2006. (Macky Macaspac)

July 24, 2014

KAMI, sina Erlinda Cadapan at Concepcion Empeño, mga ina nina Sherlyn Cadapan at Karen Empeño na mga estudyante ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas na sapilitang iwinala kasama ang magsasakang si Manuel Merino noong  Hunyo 26, 2006 sa Hagonoy, Bulacan.

Kaming mga ina, kasama ang iba pang kaanak ng mga biktima ng sapilitang pagkawala, ay muling nananawagan at naggigiit ng katarungan para sa mga mahal naming hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay hindi pa nakikita.

Walong taon na kaming walang tigil sa paghahanap sa kanila sa tama o legal na pamamaraan. Kami ay nananawagan sa inyo sa pamamagitan ng media para sa agarang pagpapalitaw sa kanila.  Ayon sa Court of Appeals, Korte Suprema, at Department of Justice, sila ay kinidnap at iligal na idinitine ng yunit ng 24th Infantry Batallion ng AFP sa pamumuno ni Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.

Alam naming hindi lingid sa inyong kaalaman ang kasong ito. Sa aming pananaw, tila mailap ang hustisya at hindi pinagtutuunan ng pansin ang aming mga panawagan. Kami ay nagdaranas ng hirap sa paghahanap ng aming mga mahal sa buhay. Dagdag pa rito ang hindi pag-aresto sa mga tinukoy na ng korte na mga opisyal ng militar na nanguna sa pagdukot kina Karen at Sherlyn.

Samantalang nananatiling malaya si Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan at M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario na utak ng pagkawala nina Karen at Sherlyn, pinatatagal naman ng mga kapwa nila akusado na sina Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado at Staff Sgt. Edgar Osorio ang pagtakbo ng kasong Kidnapping at Illegal Serious Detention na dinidinig sa Malolos Regional Trial Court. Sa halip na magpresinta ng kanilang mga sinasabing saksi ang mga akusado mula pa noong Nobyembre 2013, kung ano-anong mga dahilan ang parating inihahapag sa tuwing may pagdinig: naka-deploy sa malayo, hindi pinapayagang dumalo sa pagdinig, walang budget para sa pamasahe. Pagpapakita ito ng kawalang respeto sa karapatang pantao at sa mismong korte.

Sa tulong ng mga tagasuporta at sariling rekurso, naghanap kami sa mga ospital, presinto’t kampo ng militar na ang aming pinuntahan na umaasang mayakap muli ang aming mga anak; ilang morge na ang pinagtanungan at maging paghuhukay sa mga libingan upang kilalanin ang mga bangkay na walang umaako ay nagawa na namin sa pagbabakasakaling mabigyan ng marangal na burol at libing ang kanilang katawan pero kahit sa mga ito, walang mga Sherlyn o Karen o kahit sinong desaparecido.

Kahit ang kasong kriminal na isinampa laban kay Maj. Harry Baliaga na isa sa mga dumukot kay Jonas Burgos ay napakupad ng pag-usad. Malalayo ang pagitan ng mga petsa ng pagdinig at pinahintulutan pang makapagpiyansa si Baliaga. Sa dinami-rami ng mga opisyal na sinampahan ng kaso ng pamilya ni Jonas, lahat naabswelto maliban kay Baliaga kahit ang mga nakalap na ebidensya sa sariling pag-iimbestiga ay nakaturo at nagsasabing militar ang dumukot kay Jonas.

Ginoong Aquino, hindi lingid sa amin na naglaan kayo ng mahigit 400 milyong pisong pabuya sa mga kumakalaban sa pamahalaan. Bukod pa rito, nitong ngang huli, sumambulat sa amin ang pagkakamal ng inyong administrasyon ng bilyon-bilyong pisong pondo ng bayan sa pamamagitan ng DAP. Sa kabila ng pagdedeklara ng Korte Suprema na labag sa ating konstitusyon ang DAP, ipinagtanggol pa ninyo ito at ipinagmalaki ang mga pinaglaanang proyekto ng iligal na DAP.

Magkano ang inilaang pondo ng gobyerno para dukutin ang aming mga anak? Ilang porsyento ng DAP ang inilaan ninyo para makapagbigay katarungan sa mga biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao? Sapat na ba ang dalawang milyong pisong pabuya sa ikakaaresto ni Palparan? Kailangang makita ang aksyon sa pagtugis kina Hilario at Palparan.

Nadidismaya kami sa inyong pagkanlong at pagbibigay ng espesyal na pagtrato sa mga nakinabang sa kriminal na DAP. Malaking insulto ito sa tinamo naming sugat na idinulot ng pagkawala ng aming mga kaanak. Ipinapaalala ng inyong pagkanlong sa mga magnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan ang pagtataas ng posisyon at pagbibigay karangalan sa mga opisyal ng militar na pangunahing may pananagutan sa mga paglabag ng karapatang pantao.

Nananatiling nasa papel lamang ang Anti-Torture at Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law na magpaparusa sana sa mga dumukot at nag-torture sa aming mga anak. Subalit umabot na sa dalawampu (20) ang nagiging biktima ng sapilitang pagkawala sa ilalim ng inyong administrasyon sa kabila ng pagkakapasa ng mga batas na ito. Ginoong Aquino, kahit ilang batas ang inyong pirmahan, hindi matitigil ang pagdami ng mga desaparecidos kung hindi naman ito ipapatupad at kung sa halip ay patuloy ninyong ipapatupad ang kontra-insurhensyang programang Oplan Bayanihan na nagnanakaw ng buhay sa maraming biktima.

Ginoong Aquino, ninakaw ng pamahalaan ang aming mga anak.  Ang iginigiit naming hustisya para sa aming mga anak at iba pang mga biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao ay alingawngaw ng aming isinisigaw na katarungan mula pa noong dukutin ang aming mga anak. Nagawa na namin ang lahat na dapat naming magawa. Panahon na para gawin mo naman ang iyong bahagi na agarang ilitaw sina Karen at Sherlyn at maaresto sina Rizal Hilario at Jovito Palparan para panagutin sa kanilang paglabag sa aming karapatan.

Iminumungkahi namin ang inyong pagbibitiw sa pwesto kung hindi ninyo ito kayang tugunan.


Naghahanap ng Katarungan,

(sgd) Erlinda Cadapan

(sgd) Concepcion Empeño


Reference:       Concepcion Empeño, Chairperson (0928-2884623)
                 Erlinda Cadapan (0908-7136291)