International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines [CHRP-UK]

STATEMENT: On the 9th year of disappearance of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan (June 26, 2015)

Hustisya: Jun 26 11:39PM +0800
26 June 2015

Stop enforced disappearances, end the injustice now!

Nine years since state security forces disappeared University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan, we mark this day once again with our call for justice.

For nine years, we have lit hundreds of candles. For nine years we carried their photographs etched on posters and tarpaulins to every rally and dialogue with authorities. Their pictures are now worn out and tattered. Their families and friends who were left behind have grown old, but the search for the missing never tires.

The impunity on the worst kind of human rights violations during the Gloria Macapaga-Arroyo struck hard, with victims reaching thousands of individuals and hundreds of families. The intensity of violations manifested in the way that even during that fateful day that Karen, Sherlyn and farmer Manuel Merino were abducted in Hagonoy, Bulacan, four more were abducted in Sipocot, Camarines Sur, namely Prudencio Calubid, Celina Palma, Gloria Soco and Ariel Beloy.

The era of Arroyo administration claimed 206 desaparecidos. Not a single one has been found since. Not yet included here are the 1, 206 murdered during her term. Not one has been rendered justice.

Under the Aquino government, justice is still denied. Worse, the same counter-insurgency program under its new brand Oplan Bayanihan intensified. The Aquino government perfected its usage of double speak. While it portrays itself as championing human rights, it unleashes Oplan Bayanihan against the people in the country.

Retired Gen. Jovito Palparan is charged before the courts for cases of kidnapping and serious illegal detention, because of the tireless efforts of the families of Karen and Sherlyn. Meanwhile, the Aquino government pours out all the resources in “securing” the butcher, against all imaginary threats to his life. He has yet to be made to pay for violations against the people in provinces where he implemented his bloody campaign against activists and ordinary civilians.

The Aquino government spends its last days washing its hands clean of all its abuses and atrocities against the people. There are 26 more desaparecidos under Aquino. This government continues to deny the existence of political prisoners while there are 527 of them languishing in jails on the basis of trumped up charges. Harassment, surveillance, political repression, widespread militarization continue to threaten the people. There seems no stopping the Aquino government of filling his “tuwid na daan” with the blood and bodies of the Filipino people who are fighting for their rights.

We want justice and we want it now, but we cease to believe that we shall attain justice under the Aquino government. We can only hope for a regime change now. We call on the Filipino people to put an end to this rotten system of injustice and culture of impunity. We should never cease to fight for justice, nine years and beyond. ###

Reference: Cristina Guevarra, Hustisya secretary general. +639084383826

Hustisya National Office
2/F #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts.
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City 1100 Philippines

Telephone: (02) 434-7486 | (02) 435-4146

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Release all political prisoners, Karapatan dares Malacanang

publicinfo: Jun 26 11:10AM +0800

Press Statement
June 26, 2015

Contact Person: Cristina Palabay, secretary general (+639173162831)
Angge Santos, media laiason (+639189790580)

Release all political prisoners, Karapatan dares Malacanang

“We have heard this line before,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in reaction to Malacanang’s declaration of openness to talk peace with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). “If and when Malacanang releases peace consultants of the NDFP and withdraw all trumped-up criminal charges against them, then maybe we can believe it’s more than just a press release,” Palabay said.

“During the BS Aquino presidency, his office has churned out too many press releases on its purported openness to talk peace. But nothing significant came out of it. Worst, more NDFP consultants were illegally arrested and falsely charged with criminal cases using professional witnesses and planted evidence,” Palabay said. It was in 2011 when the last formal peace talks happened in Norway.

There are now 17 imprisoned peace consultants, 11 of them were arrested under the BS Aquino government.

“BS Aquino and the military concoct unbelievable cases, come up with lying witnesses, and even invent evidence to keep NDFP consultants and its perceived enemies inside jails,” Palabay said. “For instance, the multiple murder case against former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo and peace consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, Randall Echanis, Vicente Ladlad, and Rafael Baylosis are based on obviously manufactured evidences of portable human skeletons, which existed at one time in two places in Inopacan, and Baybay, Leyte,” Palabay said. The Tiamzon couple has been in incarcerated inside the Custodial Center at Camp Crame for more than a year now.

This multiple murder case was manufactured by the now abolished Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) of Gloria Arroyo, “but the BS Aquino government still uses this to chase and jail the peace
consultants,”” she added. “Arroyo’s dirty old tricks are the same dirty tricks this regime is using, but more brazen this time.”

“Another consultant, Tirso Alcantara faces 43 fabricated criminal cases. The Armed Forces of the Philippines has been shopping for cases against Alcantara all-over Southern Tagalog regardless if evidences are weak, unbelievable or impossible,” Palabay cited.

Palabay observed that some information sheet did not even mention the names of the consultants, citing the case of Renante Gamara who was arrested and imprisoned for supposedly being ‘Ka Mike’, an accused in a murder case in Mauban, Quezon.

“We challenge the BS Aquino regime to correct its violations of the signed agreements with the NDFP such as the agreement on safety and immunity of the peace consultants, the JASIG, and the agreement on human rights and international humanitarian law, the CARHRIHL, by releasing the NDFP peace consultants and all political prisoners,” ended Palabay. ###

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Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES
1101Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.