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    Karapatan and Desaparecidos’ statements on the International Day in support of victims of torture and 7th year of disappearance of Karen and Sherlyn

    Press Statement
    June 26, 2013

    Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
    Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580

    On Aquino’s 3rd year – Use of torture exists under the Aquino II government—Karapatan

    “No matter how the Aquino government denies the use of torture, state security forces in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) resort to and apply it to their victims, inside and outside prison,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan.

    For the first three years of the Noynoy Aquino government, Karapatan, as of April 30, 2013, documented 76 incidents of torture, more than half of the 128 cases under the nine years of Gloria Arroyo.

    “The Anti-Torture Law, enacted in 2009, has not prevented the government to use torture to extract information from detainees or abducted persons. The government violates its own laws,” added Hilao-Enriquez.

    Foremost among these cases is the torture of security guard Rolly Panesa, mistaken to be a top-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who was badly beaten during interrogation inside a military camp. Photos of Panesa’s bruised and swollen face, including medical certificates proved what he went through. Panesa is still in jail for nearly eight months now.

    In Samar, ten soldiers of the 87th IBPA tortured Richard Oblino, 25, and his nephew Orlan, 16, on February 28 after they were ordered to surrender their guns. Richard had a bolo with him which he used for farm work. The soldiers forced Richard to the ground. They took off his shirt and used it to blindfold him. Then they stomped on his legs and stomach; they poured water in his mouth.

    Another group of soldiers tortured Richard’s nephew Orlan. They wrapped his head with a plastic bag as they kicked him on the legs and punched him. The soldiers inserted bullets between his fingers and pressed hard. A soldier fired his gun near the teenager’s head and shouted “Surender n’yo armas n’yo! (Surrender your gun!)” to which Orlan replied, “Waray ako armas, sir (I have no gun, sir.)”

    On May 29, 2012, Cesar Graganta of San Pedro, Laguna was in Villa Hermosa village, Macalelon, Quezon when he and his two companions passed by soldiers of the 85th IBPA at the barangay hall. The soldiers summoned the three as they fired a shot, prompting Cesar’s companions to run. The soldiers took Cesar and tied him to a tree for one and-a-half hours while they interrogated him. Soldiers punched and kicked him, put a bolo against his neck, hit him with a piece of bamboo, put sharp sticks into his ears, tied a rope around his neck and pulled at it, pinched his nose with pliers and poured ants on his body.

    “The government cannot fool the people by simply dishing out pro-human rights hype in media. What happens on the ground will humiliate the Aquino government. Aquino cannot dismiss the torture victims as isolated cases, and not a government policy, because torture is resorted to all over the country as a component of its Oplan Bayanihan,” said Hilao-Enriquez.

    Hilao-Enriquez concluded, The next three years will be marked by continuing, if not worsening human rights violations as Noynoy Aquino, like his predecessors resort to the continuing use of Oplan Bayanihan. The people must remain ever vigilant of the intensification of fascist attacks by this government just like the struggle the people waged against the fascist attacks of the former dictator Marcos.###

    ———————————————————————
    PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
    publicinfo@karapatan.org
    ———————————————————————
    Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
    2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
    Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
    Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
    Web: http://www.karapatan.org

    KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.
    ————————————————————————-
    Press Release
    June 26, 2013

    Reference:
    Lorena P. Santos, Secretary General
    Concepcion Empeño
    Linda Cadapan
    Contact Number: +639229393824

    Mothers of missing Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan join people’s protest against torture and illegal detention

    “Sobra nang pahirap ang pitong taong paghahanap! Sobra na talaga!” (Seven years of searching is too much of an agony. It’s just too much!) Concepcion Empeño and Linda Cadapan, mothers of missing Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan decried as the disappearance of their daughters reached its 7th year.

    It was on this day, seven years ago that Sherlyn and Karen were taken by several armed men in combat boots in Hagonoy, Bulacan. The two women and a farmer Manuel Merino was dragged out of the houses they were staying in, hands tied and blindfolded. Sherlyn, who was pregnant at that time, was kicked at the stomach.

    “I am so disappointed with the Aquino government for being inutile in pursuing justice,” Linda Cadapan said. “Seven years of lying and cover up is enough!” Cadapan said further.

    “Dapat tigilan na ang pagtatago ni Palparan, o pagtatago sa kanya ng kapwa militar!” (Palparan should come out, or those military mistahs keeping him should give him up!) Mrs. Empeno said. “Isuko na siya ng gobyernong ito at papanagutin sa kasalanan niya! (The government should hand him over and make him accountable to his violations!) added Mrs. Empeno.

    “In all the cases of enforced disappearance, none of the perpetrators is ever punished or put to jail,” said Lorena “Aya” Santos, secretary general of Families of Desaparecidos for Justice. “Under the Noynoy Aquino regime, disappearances are still perpetrated as part of its counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan,” Santos continued.

    “There are now 16 documented cases of disappearances and the victims remain missing to date,” Santos said, citing Karapatan’s documentation. “In fact, two incidents of enforced disappearances were reported right after the enactment of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012,” Santos said.

    After seven long years of search, both mothers still hope to find their daughters. Mrs. Cadapan has this message for daughter Sherlyn:”Magpakatatag kayo. Kaming nagmamahal sa inyo, mga magulang, kapatid at mga kaibigan ay di titigil sa paghahanap sa inyo at sa hustisya na maparusahan ang may salarin.” (Be strong. We who love you – your parents, sibling and friends will not stop in searching for you, pursue justice and ensure that the perpetrators are punished).

    “Karen, malapit na uli ang kaarawan mo sa July 22, SONA yan. Sasama ako bilang simbolo ng pakikibaka. Yan ang alay ko sa iyong kaarawan. We love you so much . Pakatandaan mo yan,” (Karen, on your birthday, July 22 is also the President’s State of the Nation Address. I will attend (the protest) as a symbol of our struggle. It’s my gift to you. We love you so much, always remember that.) was Mrs. Empeno message to Karen.

    Both mothers and other families of desaparecidos joined today’s rally to commemorate the 7th year of disappearance of Karen and Sherlyn and to join the call to stop torture and illegal arrests and detention.

    Today is also the 7th year of disappearance of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Prudencio Calubid, his wife Celina Palma, a staff Ariel Beloy and his niece Gloria Soco who were abducted at the boundary of Quezon Province and Camarines Norte. According to a witness/survivor, they underwent torture to force them to admit they are members of the New People’s Army.
    ———————————————————————
    PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
    publicinfo@karapatan.org
    ———————————————————————
    Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
    2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
    Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
    Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
    Web: http://www.karapatan.org

    KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.

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