Aquino slammed anew on poor rights slate

Candles, flowers, and prayers for desaparecidos

Candles, flowers, and prayers for desaparecidos

Joshua L. Labonera | The Daily Tribune

The record of President Aquino regarding rights protection was again placed into focus after groups criticized his administration’s inaction on issues on impunity and cases of missing individuals who were believed abducted by state forces.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) yesterday lambasted Aquino’s continued tolerance for media killings and keeping the culture of impunity in the country as the first United Nations Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists was marked yesterday.

The NUJP, in a statement, assailed the government’s apathy and continually feeding impunity on assaults on members of the press, which it said lead to the loss of 171 media workers since 1986. The group slammed Aquino for breaking his promise of justice to Filipinos and repeatedly attacking the press.

Relatives of the deseparacidos, or the missing, also wrote a letter to Pope Francis to intercede in seeking from Aquino action in resolving the long list of unresolved cases of Filipinos who have gone missing due to their political ideology.

Aquino was lambasted by the union over the Maguindanao massacre, tagged by international media as one of the most inhumane attacks against journalists. NUJP said Aquino’s inaction gave way to the slow pace of the court trials.

“It has not helped that President Aquino has not only broken all his promises on justice and good governance, presenting lame excuses for taking back his vow to enact the Freedom of Information Law and even bungling the number of media victims — 32 — in the single deadliest attack on the press in history,” NUJP said.

“Worse, time and again, [Aquino made] the media a whipping boy even as the media fulfill their duty of informing the people of what his administration is doing or not doing,” it added.

NUJP said that Aquino’s term recorded one of the worst string of media killings of any sitting president, with 30 journalists dying under his watch.

“Instead of ordering an end to the killings, he has continued to offer what amounts to a justification for the murders, hinting without providing any evidence that the victims were either not killed on the line of duty or were engaged in less than ethical undertakings,” NUJP said.

“… [Benigno Aquino III] has failed to fulfill his pledge to protect our rights and freedoms and, because of this, how his hands are stained with the blood of our fallen colleagues,” it said.

The Palace on its part said the case – which has been stagnant in the courts for four years –  is being looked into by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima herself, to directly focus on the prosecution and improve communication between the Department of Justice (DoJ) and private prosecutors.

“The President is one with our countryment in seeking service of full justice through delivering conclusion from the current litigation. On the other hand, the judiciary is a separate branch of government that’s why it has it’s own moves,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Coloma commented on the Quezon City Regional Trial court’s act to allow 25 suspects to post bail, saying that he respects the court’s decision.

“The decision of the court is its own decision. We have no power on that. In the right moment, prosecutors will take rightful steps according to their estimate in the situation of the trial,” Coloma said.

“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,” Desaparecidos secretary general Aya Santos said.

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, according to the group.

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 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.

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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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)

​OPEN LETTER
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)