NEWS IN PICTURES
“We are here because we will not let them be forgotten…These are their faces, these are their names.”
MANILA – It’s the fifth time to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared under President Aquino, and the call to “surface all desaparecidos” continues, this time with 27 additional names – all disappeared under the administration that professed to tread the “straight path.”
Carrying 27 paper cutouts of doves, families and friends remembered victims of enforced disappearances at Plaza Miranda, on the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30.
The paper doves stood for the 27 desaparecidos (the disappeared) under the past five years under President Aquino: indigenous peoples who resisted mining and logging operations, leaders and organizers in the rural and urban areas, and ordinary farmers who were caught in the midst of military operations.
As Aquino has apparently reneged on his promise to bring justice to victims of human rights violations during the Arroyo regime, the military under the “tuwid na daan’s” Oplan Bayanihan committed its own enforced disappearances, considered the cruelest of all forms of rights abuses.
The commemoration coincided with the “Kadena” procession of the Nazareno in Quiapo church, and the small group of human rights and church advocates held their program amid the sea of barefooted, maroon-shirted, mostly youth Nazareno devotees. Kin of those missing from the Martial Law era and the past regimes were present.
“We are here because we will not let our loved ones be forgotten. Please look at their pictures. These are their names, these are their faces,” said Aya Santos, secretary geneal of the Families of Desaparecidos for Justice (Desaparecidos).
Santos’ father, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Leo Velasco was abducted and disappeared in 2007, one of the 200 desaparecidos during the time of President Gloria Arroyo.
Also present were Lumads from Caraga region, who evacuated because of military presence and harassment in their communities last week. Lumad farmers, such as Jojo Tejero and Elde Martinez, were among the desaparecidos under Aquino. The latest victim, John Calaba, a Manobo leader, was disappeared on April 30 in Sultan Kudarat, while in the company of guards of the David M. Consunji Inc. (DMCI), which has mining and logging activities in the area.
Text and photos by Dee Ayroso