My name is Relyn T. Bon, 21 years old, a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in the University of Pasig, Philippines. I am currently working as an Administrative and Finance Staff of Teachers’ Dignity Coalition a non-government organization for teachers in the Philippines. I’m here to represent Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) – a human rights advocate in the Philippines where the Samahan ng mga Anak ng Desaparecidos or Association of the Children of the Disappeared from which I take part. It is one of the pet programs they established to help for the rehabilitation of sons/daughters of the victim of involuntary disappearance. I am glad to be part of the 19th Annual Conference here at Balducci Centre, reflecting upon: “Children and Women of the World: Protagonist of the Human Future”. It is indeed a great privilege to be a proactive participant of this convention.
I really feel so honored to share with you my personal experienced as a child of a disappeared and how our family faced the situation. I’m just one of the numerous children, parents, wives, brothers and sister of the disappeared in the Philippines who are also experienced losing a loved ones. Some victims were found surfaced alive; while other found dead and many are still remain missing.
We are six siblings in the family of three girls and three boys. I am the youngest. My mother’s name is Yolanda T. Bon, 56 of age a member of FIND. She was only three months pregnant with me when my father disappeared. A simple housewife but because of the disappearance of my father she work hard for her to support and fed us. My father’s name is Remigio P. Bon, He was a labor leader and a member of Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Pasig (ALMAPAS) a labor organization. He disappeared August 8, 1989 at Barangay Ueg, San Mariano, Isabela, Philippines. The probable cause of his disappearance is politically motivated. My father’s disappearance has been psychologically and emotionally traumatizing our surviving family, because he is the breadwinner in the family. A very sad experienced that I have because I grew up without him to guide and to care for me while I’m growing. I lost the person who could be the first source of my strength and help me when I’m in trouble or need advice. It’s very difficult to realize that I missed out the father who could make me laugh or smile when I feel bad and most specially to show his love for me. But I know wherever he is now he protects our family.
After six years of his disappearance the horrible remains of my father was exhumed June 23, 1995 I was five years old then. FIND workers, together with my mother and the University of the Philippines (UP) Anthropologist Professor Jerome Bailen went to Barangay Ueg, San Mariano, Isabela Philippines to conduct a low profile investigation and searched to my father’s remains. Base on the investigation that they conducted the result was positive. The remains of my father brought to the UP laboratory for the examination of his skeletal remains and base on the autopsy report my father was summarily executed. He was given a final burial October 29, 1995. Enforced Disappearance is the most cruel and most brutal form of human rights violation because it violates the right to life of a victim like what had happened to my father. Indeed, my father’s human rights were violated and the worst part of the story since our bread winner and the head of our family’s life were taken away from us we until now are suffering form its holistic turmoil.
Our country, the Philippines, is one of those who have reports on human rights violations and our family’s story is just one of the various cases. One specific case of human Rights violation in the Philippines is the so – called enforced Disappearance. What is Enforced Disappearance? Enforced Disappearance – “is the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agent of the state or by persons or group of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” (as define by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance).
We as human beings are entitled to certain rights or freedom of action to realize our innermost potentials and to achieve our goals and aspirations. Needless to say basically we have the right to life, to dignity, self-development, to survive, to self-determination and to national development. But as much as we would like to preserve the inalienable and inviolable rights of each human family, violations of the said rights are happening in each country. Reported atrocities of human rights violation are been reported in the United Nations and other international body and non-governmental organizations which advocated the protection of human rights. Continue reading
ni Bernah BernardoYan ang larawan ng pamilya na hindi ko na muling naramdaman Ang apat na kamay sa aking munting katawan Ay naging dalawa na, mula na lamang kay Nanay Kaya naman may bahagi ng katawan ko na laging giniginaw Sa kabila nito, patuloy akong lumaki Natutong tumawa, gumapang at tumayo Sa lahat ng ito, si Inay at mga kapatid lamang ang nakasama Walang amang dadampot kapag ako’y nadadapa Walang mababang boses na awit kapag ako’y matutulog At walang mahinahong payo sa bawat pagkakamali ko. Sa munting mga paraan, natuto akong maglaro. Minsan isang araw, nakakita ako ng bata bukod sa kanyang nanay, may kahawak pa siya sa kabilang kamay malaki ang katawan, mataas na parang higante mukhang malakas at matapang. “Tatay” ang narinig ko nang siya’y tawagin ng bata. Ako’y tumingin kay Nanay at pagkatapos tumingin sa kabila kong kamay. Bakit walang nakahawak sa akin na Tatay? Continue reading
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
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.
• 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
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
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
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