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
The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) strongly urge the Philippine government to immediately release all political prisoners even as we lament the failure of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to heed with dispatch the prisoners’ call for freedom. Prompt and favorable response by government could have averted the current hapless condition of the political prisoners who are now on the 19th day of their hunger strike.
There are 318 political prisoners and detainees who are still languishing in various detention facilities all over the country according to the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP). But the Philippine government continues to deny them political recognition by charging them with common criminal offenses. It is a clear breach of international human rights and humanitarian laws, especially the right to liberty as well as the international standards of fair trial and other rights of detained and confined persons.
We, the families and friends of the victims of enforced disappearance, support the call of the political prisoners on the Philippine government to rectify their erroneous arrest and deprivation of liberty to pave the way not only for their immediate release but also to open the door for us to find our disappeared loved ones.
Most if not all political prisoners, have invariably disclosed that they have been subjected to enforced disappearance and various acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during the period of their arrest and custodial investigation. Some of them have been tortured to death like the case of the six PICOP (paper factory) workers in Agusan del Sur in the Southern Philippines whose tortured and lifeless bodies were burned to ashes by the members of the 62nd ID of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in October 2000.
While many among us would like to believe that our dear Desaparecidos are still unaccounted political prisoners, the possibility for those who have long been missing to have been mercilessly killed and unceremoniously dumped into some unmarked graves nags at our minds. Continue reading
I am daughter of a desaparecido, but I was also a daughter of political prisoner.
Years ago, when I was still unconscious of how the society works; when all I know in life was toys and games; I saw my father in the news raising his fist up high. I asked my aunts what was happening and they just said that my father was now a super star. Amusing but I know it was never like that. The next thing I knew, I never saw my father again. Not until we visited him in Camp Crame. Not behind bars but still confine.
I am my Papa’s girl. And not being able to play with him was in no way easy. What more writing letter of how much you want to go to the zoo? Of how great you are in school? Of how much you miss him? Of when is he coming home? I was eight back then and still, I asked them where my father is? Lies were thrown at me that he was just working and can’t come home. Lies for I was too young to understand. To young to know. After a few months he was released.
But fate decided not to be good to our family. For after four years he was again taken from us. This time, we really have look hard for we don’t know where he is exactly. From hospital to morgue, to precinct to military camps. Mama was restless and scared. We are restless and scared. At twelve, I was still young. But old enough to know that it happened before. Old enough to understand and to know what was going on. Continue reading
• 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
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
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.