Monthly Archives: July 2011

Anchored on Principles

“LIGTAS SA KARAHASAN Jemimah G. Crismo, 13 yrs old 15” x 20”, oil pastel on board

Meet Rigor, born and raised in Bicol. His grandfather is a lawyer. His father is a lawyer. They are a clan of lawyers. His mother always says that it’s about time that they put an end to their clan’s practice of fighting for the rights of the poor pro bono. Rigor has met and known all kinds of people: politicians,actors, workers… all sorts of people coming from all sectors of society.

Because of the people surrounding him, his eyes were gradually opened to the true colors of people, the true colors of the world. True, his predecessors were always associated with human rights issues. But, his own knowledge about such things seemed lacking.

He couldn’t help but be involved in the human rights movement. If you look closely at its advocates, you will see that most of them are workers looking for justice after suffering from abusive elements of the rich and bourgeoisie. They are workers looking for something to lean on and energize them during those times when the movement seems devoid of hope. In them, Rigor found a friend, a family that he considers his own.

But in any struggle, it is difficult if not impossible to prevent violence and crimes from taking place. Fabricated cases hound the workers. Times like these, Rigor’s “family” needs him most. He did all he can to make things right , to fight for the rights of others. In the process, he had to face powerful adversaries in court people who were highly influential.

One day, Rigor was on his way home from a hearing when armed men suddenly blocked his way. He was forcibly dragged into a car with no plate number. The driver immediately revved its motor to take Rigor to their safehouse as quickly as possible. Rigor was blindfolded before he was made to get off from the car. He was taken to a room where the only sounds he could hear were the armed men saying things like, ” I don’t think this one will still be alive by the time the sun rises.” Continue reading

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DARKNESS IS GOODNESS

Darkness Is Also Good
It Is An Essential Part Of The Universe
God Created It, And It Created Us

Without Darkness, How Can We Sleep Deeply?!
Without Darkness, How Can Daytime Be Nighttime?!
Without Darkness, How Can We Have A Healthy Hair?!
Without Darkness, How Can Our Pupil Absorb The Light?!

Without Darkness, How Can Black People Start The Human Race?!
Without Darkness, How Can We Explore The Vast Outer Space?!
Without Darkness, How Can We Watch A Pretty Eclipse?!
Without Darkness, How Can A Black Hole Perform Its Role?!

Without Darkness, How Can Solar Panels Absorb Energy?!
Without Darkness, How Can A Charcoal Burn Efficiently?!
Without Darkness, How Can Oil Emit Some Energy?!
Without Darkness, How Can We Watch A Monochrome TV?! Continue reading

[Statement]The Righteous Path Should be Free from Enforced Disappearance

Joint Statement of AFAD and FIND
On the President Aquino’s 2nd State of the Nation Address
25 July 2011
 

Today, the whole nation will be sitting on the edge of the seat as we listen to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).

We are all expecting PNoy to go beyond mere rhetoric of promised change. Leaving out human rights from the government’s top agenda during his first SONA has become a major blunder that brings the nation way off his “daang matuwid” (straight path) in over a year in office.

In as far as human rights are concerned, it has been a crooked trail from the start. The president did not only fail to fulfill his promise to end serious human rights violations in the country, but his inaction has led to more transgressions with brazen impunity.

The continuing commission of enforced disappearances highlights this untenable fact. As of September 2010, the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) has documented 2,314 cases of disappearance since the dark days of Martial Law up to the present administration.  Eight new cases have been reported under the present Aquino administration according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Most of these cases are attributed to state security sectors. To note, the recent Supreme Court decision ordered the military to release two missing UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan and their farmer companion, Manuel Merino and named members of the Armed Forces of thePhilippines, including retired Major General Jovito Palparan responsible for their disappearance in 2006. Yet until now, no single perpetrator has been brought to justice.

This situation mirrors the dismal state of human rights in the country under the Aquino administration. Continue reading

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MULING BUHAYIN

by Hermon Silverio L. Sevilla IV

patay na apo
yuko na ang ulo
suko na ang mandirigma…

heto na ako sa aking libingan

ibabaon nang hindi man lang umusbong
makakalimutan nang hindi man lang naalala
mabubulok nang hindi man lang nagbunga.

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Statement of FIND on the 17th Anniversary of the Unveiling of the Flame of Courage Monument

13 July 2011

Flame of Courage

It may not be as huge and conspicuous as most of the monuments in Metro Manila, but its significance is deep and extraordinary. The Flame of Courage Monument that was unveiled 17 years ago today and is now part of the Bantayog ng mga Desaparecido memorial shrine at the Baclaran Redemptorist church grounds serves as a place where families and friends remember, offer prayers and pay tribute to their loved ones who were forcibly disappeared.

The 17th anniversary of the monument also marks the 26th year since Redemptorist priest Fr. Rudy Romano and activist Roland Levi Ybañez were disappeared.

Fr. Romano was allegedly abducted by military intelligence operatives on July 11, 1985 in Labangon, Cebu City. Like most enforced disappearances, the search for the truth behind the enforced disappearance of Fr. Romano has been endless even as his life has not ceased to inspire political and social activists more particularly in the urban poor and labor sectors.

Fr. Romano fearlessly struggled with and for the oppressed unmindful of the perils of the righteous path he was treading. Continue reading

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Joint Statement on the 26th Commemoration of the Enforced Disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano, CsSR

Joint Statement on the 26th Commemoration of the Enforced Disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano, CsSR.

At around 3:45 PM, a man riding a blue motorcycle was blocked by armed men, shoved into a white Ford Cortina bearing government license plates and taken away.  The person would later on fit the description of Fr. Rudy Romano, CsSR.

It was July 11, 1985. He was 44 years old.

Twenty six years later, we still ask the question asked by many on that fateful day, “Where is Fr. Rudy?”.

Perhaps his enforced disappearance was orchestrated by those could not live with his leadership role in the progressive movement or perhaps by those whose interests were threatened by his community organizing and fraternizing with the basic masses – the workers, the farmers, the poor.  Perhaps he inspired resistance against the injustices perpetrated by the forces that be. Perhaps his abduction was meant to silence the growing anti-dictatorship sentiments in the province.

These nagging questions persist to this day. What is certain is that despite Fr. Rudy’s sudden disappearance, his personal struggle for social change has taken a collective form and continues to this day.

For every worker who is deprived of his just share in the distribution of wealth, Fr. Rudy is there. For every farmer denied of his dignity by being denied of his right to till his own land, Fr. Rudy is there. For every injustice, Fr. Rudy is there. Continue reading

Dreams, the Other Side of Reality

I, Gardo, am a leader of farmers. I have a wife who is three months pregnant with our first child.

I was at a meeting until 8:00 one night. When I got home, I felt my eyelids slowly getting heavier… I was so tired, I didn’t even realize that I had fallen asleep. I woke up at the same time that the rooster crowed. It was already 5:00. Oh no, the sun will already be up by the time I hit the road! my wife scolded me as I was getting dressed. “Hoy! The morning light will soon catch up on you, hurry up!” she said. There was a knock on the door. Tok! Tok! When we opened the door, two armed men barged in and took me by force. We were helpless as they dragged me towards the mountain. They started beating me up. “Aaarrgh!!” My jaws almost shattered because of the hard beatings. I was drowning from the blood oozing from my nose. I could no longer see anything. The only sound I could hear was their laughter, “Hahahahaha!” When we reached the top of the mountain, they pointed a gun at me and suddenly, bang! Continue reading

WHY PERPETRATORS OF ENFORCED DISAPPERANCE SHOULD BE LIMITED TO AGENTS OF THE STATE OR PUBLIC OFFICERS

*This is the position of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance on the issue of exclusion of the NON-STATE ACTORS in the recent bills on Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law.
 
 

• Enforced disappearance violates the fundamental rights to life and liberty which are enshrined in Article III (The Bill of Rights) of the Constitution in order to be protected.

In his sponsorship speech as Chair of the Committee on the Bill of Rights of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, Fr. Joaquin Bernas said:

“Protection against whom? Protection against the state. The Bill of Rights governs the relationship between the individual and the state. Its concern is not the relation between individuals, between a private individual and other individuals. What the Bill of Rights does is to declare some forbidden zones in the private sphere inaccessible to any power holder.”

• During the interpellation, Fr. Bernas reiterated that “the rights in a Constitution are protection against the government”. When asked if the “rights which protect the citizens against other private citizens” can be considered as a valid second category of constitutional rights, Fr. Bernas categorically answered, “I would not put that under the Constitution. That would be more of a matter for the Civil and Penal Codes”. He further underscored that “a private individual” who “injures another individual… is not covered by the Bill of Rights” but by “civil law and criminal law”. Elucidating, he made it clear that the Bill of Rights lists the rights of individuals vis-à-vis the state. What the Bill of Rights, he said, tries to prevent is the violation of these rights by the state and not by other individuals. As an example, he cited the provision which states that “no person shall be deprived of life”. He explained that this means non-deprivation of life by the state without due process of law; that if a person kills another person, it is a violation of the penal law, but not of the Bill of Rights. Continue reading

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