“Neri Colmenares has always supported our call for justice…We want him in the senate.”
MANILA – Families of victims of enforced disappearance expressed support to former Bayan Muna partylist representative, Neri Colmenares, who is running for a senatorial seat in the 2019 elections.
“Neri Colmenares has always supported the call for justice and to surface the disappeared, whether inside Congress, in the streets and in the international community. He has always been there for us. We want him in the senate,” said the Families of the Disappeared for Justice (Desaparecidos).
The group issued a resolution supporting Colmenares during their fourth assembly held Nov. 2 to 4 in Antipolo City. The assembly was attended by some 50 families of desaparecidos and human rights advocates.
Colmenares is one of the authors of Republic Act 10353, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. The group also noted other laws co-authored by Colmenares and the Makabayan bloc, such as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 and the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
The anti-disappearance law defines enforced disappearance as any form of deprivation of a person’s liberty by state agents or their representatives, and their refusal to acknowledge such detention, which puts the person outside the protection of the law. The group decried that the six-year-old law is not being implemented.
“Military officials simply denied that they have my husband,” said Conching Torres, one of the delegates, who recently went the rounds of military camps searching for her husband Joey Torres Sr who has been missing since Sept. 22.
Under the law, military or police officials of detention facilities are required to issue a certification in writing in response to any inquiry by groups searching for missing victims. Authorities are also required to issue an official, up-to-date register of all persons detained or confined.
The Torres couple are members of Bayan Muna partylist in Central Luzon. They were also political prisoners during the Corazon Aquino administration and were disappeared for a month until human rights groups found them detained in Camp Olivas in Pampanga.
Desaparecidos also issued a resolution to strengthen the campaign to hold President Duterte along with previous administrations accountable for continued disappearances and other human rights violations. The group also called for an end to martial law in Mindanao, which has resulted in the killings and disappearances of activists and civilians, such as during the siege of the Islamic City of Marawi.