April 5, 2010
Today marks the eighth year death anniversary of my daughter Benjaline
“Beng” Hernandez. Beng was a former student journalist who chose to work for the marginalized as a human rights defender. Together with
other human rights workers Vivian Andrade and Crisanto Amora, Beng was killed by CAFGU and military elements belonging to the 12th Special Forces Company.
Today, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, plunderer, human rights violator and
sitting President of the Philippines celebrates her 63rd natal day. As
mother of a victim of her regime, I ask: how on earth could she – a
leader held accountable for the woes of her country including that of
the deaths and disappearance of many workers, women, peasants, youth and children – celebrate?
Indeed, Gloria celebrates amidst the continued persecution of many men
and women whose only “fault” was to help and defend the poor. Today
eight years later, men and women like those of the 43 health workers
fall as victims of Oplan Bantay Laya, this cruel anti-insurgency program nearing its implementation deadline.
Beng was one of the first victims of the implementation of Oplan
Bantay Laya, which GMA began implementing in 2002. Today, eight years after, a total of 1,188 have been killed, 205 still missing and 286
Today, the soldiers that massacred Beng and her companions remain
unpunished, namely, Army T/Sgt. Antonio Torilla of the 12th Special
Forces unit under the 10th IB which led the operations. The Kidapawan
regional trial court dismissed the murder case in 2004. Before that,
the two CAFGU members that were arrested were released on bail after
six months in detention.
Justice eludes Beng and the thousand others who have been victimized
by this vicious anti-insurgency plan.
And so today, I, together with many other mothers, fathers, brothers
and sisters of the victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced
disappearances, torture, illegal arrest and detention rise together,
march together and raise our voices in unison against a state led by a
brutal human rights violator called Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
And we will continue to do so until we achieve justice, not just for
Beng but for the thousands this inhuman president has victimized.
Justice for Beng Hernandez!
Justice for all victims of Oplan Bantay Laya!
Evangeline Hernandez, Convener
Victims of the Arroyo Regime for Justice