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