Monthly Archives: June 2011


“MALAYANG MAKAPAGPAHAYAG” Ezekiel O. Estojero, 17 yrs old 15” x 20”, oil pastel on board

Thank you, Itay. You are the one who made Inay and me alive with colors.

Your comrades and I know that while you were still alive, you valued and loved them as you valued and loved Inay and me. That’s why even during those times when you failed to get home, I was always sure that one of your comrades has sheltered you.

Thank you so much, Itay. We will never know the kind of pain you endured while they tried to force a confession out of you… your crushed fingers… your bloodied face… your broken bones… you wanted to escape that pain but you weren’t able to because of the inhuman way they treated you body, as if you’re a pig being butchered in a slaughterhouse. You almost died of pain, feeling as if each breath you drew will be your last.

They put you in a drum that served as your coffin, which they nonchalantly threw into the river. The people who did this to you are harsh, cruel, and ruthless.

Inay cried when you disappeared, at a loss at what to do. I cried too in a dark corner, feeling like my future has crumbled because of your disappearance. We didn’t even have a body to mourn over. Not even bones. They are heartless, Itay. Heartless and soulless.

My fervent hope is that we find justice for you while all along remaining true to our fellowmen and our country – just like you. Continue reading

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“NASAAN KA?” Ezekiel O. Estojero, 17 yrs old 15” x 20”, oil pastel on board

Enforced or involuntary disappearance. Many Filipinos are still unaware of how widespread this odious offense is in the country. The commission of this offense did not end with the Marcos regime, but continued with each succeeding administration.

Many of the victims are workers. Workers who were forced to fight for their rights, which capitalists shamelessly violated. Workers who fought for their principles against those who belong to the more powerful echelons of the society.

Who would have thought that the State, mandated to protect its citizens, is the main culprit behind such offense? Disappearance is perpetrated by State agents who claim that these workers hinder economic growth, when in fact all they are guilty of is hindering capitalist’ accumulation of wealth. These capitalist seem to have forgotten that labor is a primary economic force and that the works who supply it shed blood and sweat just to put some food on the table – even if it’s just a meal of salt and rice. All the while, they who own the companies wallow in riches. Continue reading

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I may be young, but I am empowered.

I have the ability to inform and to encourage everyone to be involved in ensuring the protection of human rights.


"SARANGOLA", by John Cyril Ramos, 12 years old

Before, I used to impress myself only in play and amusement. I relied heavily on adults, meekly saying “yes ma’am, yes sir” to everything they say even when I disagree with them. “This is what you should do…” “Do it this way…”, “you can’t do this! You can’t do that!” – words I often heard from my elders. I was always dictated upon. I was weak, afraid to express my own views. I did not have a voice.

Buy, as time passed, I realized that the situation then is not the situation now. So much has changed around us, especially in our society. The situation has worsened. The once peaceful community is now chaotic. The poor keep getting poorer as the rich getting richer. There are opportunistic government officials who abuse their power. Crime rates and reported cases of human rights violations are on the rise.

Who are affected by this worsening national scenario? Everyone, right? But, we the children, are most affected. We are the ones haplessly left in a tight spot. Aren’t we supposed to be the hope of the nation?

Because of the changes around me, my outlook began to change, too. I have slowly metamorphosed. I found courage to express what I think and feel. I now have the voice to state my opinions. I decide for myself. I no longer let my fears stop me from trying things I have never done before. And most of all, my mind is now broader, more open, especially regarding human rights and child rights issues. Continue reading

City of Lost Parents: The SAD Story

Samahan ng mga Anak ng Desaparecidos

Samahan ng mga Anak ng Desaparecidos


          My uncle, Hermon C. Lagman, a human rights and labor lawyer, disappeared on May 11, 1977 – exactly twenty-eight years ago today. He disappeared before I was born, but while I had not been blessed enough to have known Uncle Mon in person, i grew up listening to anecdotes a mixture of fondness and grief. I listened to enough of them to conclude that my uncle was selfless, fearless, and is very sorely missed.

          Uncle Mon was unmarried when he disappeared. He did not leave any children behind. Thus, while I grew up familiar with the pain felt by parents and siblings of a desaparecido’s disappearance on his or her children were unknown to me – until I met a group called SAD.


          SAD or Samahan ng mga Anak ng mga Desaparecidos (Children of the Disappeared) was founded in 1990 by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND). The Welfare and Rehabilitation Committee if FIND recognized that the children as well as the younger siblings of victims of involuntary disappearance needed spacial attention and rehabilitation. To ensure that their needs are adequately addressed, these children were organized into a group which was then included in the six lines of work of FIND. Thus, SAD was born. Continue reading

A Tribute to Desaparecidos, Our Beloved Heroes

Daugther of a desaparecido, still searching for a missing father.

We will forever be grateful for your bravery and sacrifice, your intelligence, the times we spent together, the lives you led when you were still alive.
Though we have yet to find justice for your disappearance, beloved heroes, we are here to continue the struggles you started. And we know that you are here to guide us. You may not be beside us physically, but we know you remain with us, giving us strength.

We are thankful because although you left many families behind, you also left us with memories that will always remain in our hearts. We may not have experienced for ourselves what you went through – risking your lives not just for your families, but for the whole nation – still, this much we know: you were triumphant.
Unwittingly, you also left traces of intense pain in our lives. the wounds are still with us, your comrades, spouses, children, families, all people whose lives you touched. Nevertheless, we thank you for loving your country so much, that you sacrificed even your lives. Continue reading

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Panaginip ni Neneng

Sa muling pagmulat ng mga mata, tanong ang bumubulaga. Nakatitig sa kisame at tila sinasabing ‘kumilos ka at ang oras ay nasasayang’. Ngunit para saan ang oras? Para saan ang pag-kilos? Bakit may panghihinayang? Isang bagong umaga na namn ng paghihintay. Nauulinigan ko ang tinig ni Ina, ngunit hindi ni Ama. Walang malakas at mababang tinig ang sasalubong sa akin sa hapag-kainan.Walang malaking katawan na magbabasa ng drayo habang nagka-kape ang magtatanong ng aking mga gawain sa araw na iyon. WALA dahil si Ama ay WINALA. Ito ang isang bangungot na hindi ko kailanman nais pang maganap, ang kanyang MULING pagkawala.

Katulad ng isang pangkaraniwang araw, ika’y isang anak na nag-nanais na gumampan sa gawain bilang isang panganay. Ang makatulong sa bahay maging ang pagpapanatili sa kaligtasan niya. Ngunit nakakabahala lalo’t na tila si ama ay patuloy pa ring minamatyagana at ang posibilidad ng muling pagkawala ay maaring maulit. Hanggang kailan ba kami mangangaba para kanya?

Sa tagal ng panahon, inabot na sa halos labing anim na taon ang pagsusulong ng isang batas na nagnanais magbigay proteksyon sa laban sa sapilitang pagkawala. Ang batas na magtatanggal ng kaba sa aming pamilya. Kamakailan lamang ay ito ay naipasa na sa para pangalawang pagbasa sa Senado ngunit hindi sa Mababang Kapulungan. Gumagalaw? Mukhang kailangan ng igirang pagkalampag at walang katapusang diyalogo sa mga opisyal na ito. Continue reading

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The Senate before adjourning sine die on Wednesday passed on second reading Senate Bill No. 2817 which seeks to define and penalize enforced disappearance.

Senate Bill No. 2817 was approved in substitution of Senate Bills numbered 100, 1226, 1455 and 2176 respectively authored by Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Manuel Villar, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Francis Pangilinan.

Escudero, who chairs the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, steered the plenary approval of the measure with perfecting amendments proposed by Santiago.

The proposed human rights legislation adopts the definition of enforced disappearance under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which entered into force in December last year.

The definition considers the offense as a state-perpetrated deprivation of liberty whose commission is denied or where the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared are concealed by the authorities.

The bill does not only impose penalties but also provides for preventive measures as well as compensation to victims and/or their families and rehabilitation of both victims and offenders.

Under the bill, “victim” refers to the disappeared person and any individual who has suffered harm as a direct result of an enforced disappearance.

Bills criminalizing enforced disappearance have been filed in both the Senate and the House of Representatives since the 9th Congress. The House had approved the substitute bill on third and final reading in the past two Congresses but in the current 15th Congress, the six bills pending before the Committee on Justice are yet to be consolidated.

“The families of desaparecidos and human rights advocates have been lobbying for an anti-enforced disappearance law for 16 years now,” Wilma Q. Tizon, Secretary-General of the NGO Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) said.

According to Tizon, the Senate’s approval of the bill is a big step toward the realization of the families’ dream to bring perpetrators of involuntary disappearance to justice.

“It will also spare other families the trauma that the odious offense wreaks,” Tizon added.

FIND has documented 1,820 out of the 2,160 reported victims of enforced disappearance from the Marcos regime to the present Aquino administration under which five have been reported.


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