By Joey Natividad
NAGA CITY (BicolToday.com/10-Sept-12) – Families of abducted persons who disappeared without any trace gathered in Manila to celebrate the International Day of the Disappeared, an international day of remembering the fate of thousands of victims of involuntary disappearances worldwide, BicolToday.com learned on Tuesday, September 4.
The group, with other human rights groups, placed the blame on the Aquino Administration for not acting over the fates of the disappeared who have been rising in numbers in the countryside as a result of the government’s counter-insurgency operations against rebel forces. The government crackdown also spilled down over legal groups and civilians who became human rights victims.
“We, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos) gather today, on the International Day of the Disappeared to demand from the Noynoy Aquino government for justice for all victims of enforced disappearances”, said Lorena ‘Aya’ Santos, the group’s deputy secretary-general.
Santos claimed the practice of enforced disappearance among those it perceives as “enemies of the state” did not stop when martial law was ended. The practice of enforced disappearance, although not highlighted, continues up to the present, where there are already 11 documented victims in the first two years of the Aquino presidency.
“The existence of the paramilitary groups which started during martial law and proliferated during the Cory Aquino is again sowing terror in the far-flung provinces doing the dirty work for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counter-insurgency activities,” she said.
The Families of Desaparicidos, citing an example, narrated that on the night of July 19, 2011, Micheal Celeste, Jully Devero and Gerald Abale, peasants from Magallona, Negros Occidental were abducted by members of Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Buncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB). They remain missing up to this time. The RPA-ABB is a break-away group of the New People’s Army and has long surrendered to the government. The Noynoy Aquino government supports the RPA-ABB through its PhP31 million PAMANA project.
“Human rights violations are increasing and enforced disappearances is one of the gravest form that persists from the time of martial law up to the regime of Noynoy Aquino. The government’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, is instrumental on the unabated human rights violations, and has resulted in more victims of enforced disappearances,” said Santos by email. “We hold the Noynoy government responsible for all the disappearances that happened under his regime. We also hold the Noynoy government answerable to the continuing impunity and injustice such as the continuing disappearance of many victims, and the non-arrest of the butcher Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.” [BicolToday.com]