Press statement on the first year of the Noynoy Aquino presidency

PRESS STATEMENT

June 29, 2011

 

Reference:      Cristina Palabay, Spokesperson (0917-5003879)

 

We remember, and we remained enraged.

June 26 marks the International Day in support of victims of torture. This June 26, 2011 also marks the fifth year of the abduction of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan and farmer Manuel Merino in Hagonoy, Bulacan. This irony is not lost on all women human rights defenders who have been searching, together with the kin and friends of the 2 UP students and Merino, since Day One for their loved ones and their fellow rights defenders.

We remember and we remain enraged. We remember the accounts of escaped desaparecido Raymond Manalo, who he himself received numerous blows to mind, body and spirit from the death squads and foot soldiers of Palparan, on how Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel were hidden from the public, how they were treated as slaves, how they were chained like animals, how the two women were repeatedly raped, how they were burned and charred into ashes and virtual non-existence, how life has been slowly wrung out of their lives, and how they were mocked by the brutality and injustice of it all, when their only crime was to look into and share with the plight of the impoverished farmers in Bulacan.

We remember and we remain enraged. For even as the Supreme Court, after years of resilient actions and embattled calls and vigilance for justice for the three, has ordered Gen. Jovito “The Butcher” Palparan et al to immediately release them, Palparan and his fellow officers in the Armed Forces of the Philippines have expressed innocence on the charges and the three’s whereabouts, and articulated the mantra of denial on the military’s practice of torture, which is an open secret among the ranks of the military and police (and an acknowledged experience of many who were in their hands).

We remember and we remained enraged. Because five years into their disappearance, more than a year since the passage of the Anti-Torture Law, and a year into the Aquino presidency, no one has been put behind bars for the beastly and dastardly acts of torture against the three. How can their parents and loved ones not feel both fury and exasperation, when they continue to chase and grasp the shadows of their beloved? How can they not feel intense grief, when the accolades of the former President for Palparan kept on ringing in their memories? How can we not feel distressed when women human rights defenders such as UP student Maricon Montajes, peace consultant Maria Luisa Purcray, and some 29 other women political prisoners are still languishing in jails for crimes they did not commit? How can we not feel rage, when torture, abductions, disappearances and numerous rights violations commence to this date, more brazenly and deceitfully, while the Aquino administration has let a year gone by without doing anything, save for a numerous PR gimmicks on how the AFP has been seriously studying and is adhering to the principles of human rights, while they bandied about and left almost fifty individual victims of extrajudicial killings and five cases of enforced disappearances?

Today we remember, and we feel more enraged, as we continue to cry and act for justice for Sherlyn, Karen, Manuel and all victims of torture, disappearances and rights violations in the country.

Put Palparan and Gloria Arroyo to Jail!

Release Montajes, Purcray and all political prisoners!

Justice for Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel! Surface the disappeared!

Stop torture and all human rights violations!

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About Tanggol Bayi

Established in 2008, Tanggol Bayi is an association of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Philippines. It is formed primarily for the recognition, advancement, and protection of the rights of women human rights defenders who are advocating for the realization of human rights.
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