Cadapan and Concepcion Empeno, mothers of missing UP
students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, write their
letters to UN high commissioner Bachelet.
families of the disappeared write to UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Michelle Bachelet on Int’l Day of the Disappeared
August 30, 2019
QUEZON CITY –
Members of Desaparecidos, an organization of families of the
disappeared in the Philippines, wrote letters addressed to UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the International
Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, August 30, 2019. The
initiative was in line with the recent passage of the Iceland-led
resolution which was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council and
tasked the said UN chief to write a comprehensive report on the
human rights situation in the country.
“Ang paggunita, pag-alala
at ang patuloy nating paglaban ay ang diwang magmamarka ngayong
Pandaigdigang Araw ng mga Nawawala. Marami ang gustong makalimot na
tayo, marami ang gustong baguhin ang katotohanan, ngunit andito tayo
ngayon para magpatotoo sa mga buhay ng ating mga minamahal na
sapilitang iwinala ng estado. Sumusulat kami kay UN High
Commissioner Michelle Bachelet para umapila na tingnan din niya ang
kaso ng mga biktima ng sapilitang pagkawala, at kung papaanong
magpasahanggang ngayon ay mailap pa rin ang hustisya.
“(We mark the
International Day of the Disappeared as we continue to remember and
fight for our loved ones. Many would want us to just forget, many
would want to distort the truths, but we remain steadfast in serving
witness to the horrible truth that our loved ones were taken away
from us by the State. We write to UN High Commissioner Michelle
Bachelet to appeal to her that she looks into the plight of the
disappeared and as to how justice continues to evade us and our
loved ones),” said Erlinda Cadapan, chairperson of Desaparecidos and
mother of desaparecido Sherlyn Cadapan.
Sherlyn, along with Karen
Empeño, was abducted in 2006 by military men under the command of
now retired general Jovito Palparan Jr. Horrendous accounts of
Sherlyn and Karen’s detention surfaced after a witness detailed the
students’ ordeal. Karen and Sherlyn remain missing, but Palparan and
two other military officials were convicted in 2018.
“We are respectfully and
directly addressing UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet:
Activists are still forcibly disappeared. This horror has not
stopped, and even if we have isolated victories in court, this does
not equate to our loved ones coming home to us. Please investigate
the cases of enforced disappearances and also listen to the families
of the victims; hear us,” Cadapan stated.
Among the recent cases of
enforced disappearances involve a longtime activist and peasant
organizer in Central Luzon. Joey Torres Sr. was last seen in Quezon
City before he disappeared without a trace on September 22, 2018.
The family recounted that prior to his disappearance, uniformed
policemen visited the victim in his house in July 2018. Torres’
family went around various military camps in the region to look for
Joey Torres, but to no avail. He remains missing as of this writing.
“Our entire family waits
for him. We will continue to shout his name, to call for the
military to surface him. Joey is an activist, a compassionate
individual and a loving father. Only truly heartless men would tear
apart families by killings and enforced disappearances. Miss na miss
ka na namin, Papa (We miss you, Papa),” Ching Torres appealed. As of
June 2019, there are already 10 victims of enforced disappearances
under the Duterte government.
Cadapan also hit efforts
to whitewash Palparan’s crimes and rehabilitate his image. She
likened this to the government’s effort back in February 2019 to
delist the 625 victims of enforced disappearance in the Philippines
between the years 1975 to 2012 at the United Nations Working Group
on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance (UN WGEID).
“UN High Commissioner
Michelle Bachelet also survived a dictatorship – that of Chile’s
Augusto Pinochet. She was a political prisoner and she has seen the
extent of repression that governments are capable of. We humbly ask
her to stand alongside us in our fight for remembering, for
justice,” added Cadapan.
“Our grieving continues.
Yet we are continuously being assaulted by attempts to free those
who have been convicted for these truly atrocious crimes. I still
think of Sherlyn, and I still remember the details of how she was
tortured. I want to know where my daughter is; we want our loved
ones surfaced. We appeal to UN High Commissioner Bachelet to talk to
us, for the stories of the disappeared will underscore the gravity
of the human rights situation in the country,” Cadapan ended.