MEDIA RELEASE | May 12, 2012 – Tanggol Bayi, an association of women human rights defenders in the Philippines, today hailed Filipina mothers, especially in recent “her-story,” in defending the rights and democratic interests of women and the poor and marginalized in the country.
“Many of them, such as Mrs. Edita Burgos and Ka Mameng Deunida, became public figures and personifications of the women’s struggles for social justice and human rights. Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño, mothers of disappeared Sherlyn and Karen respectively, have taken steps forward to bring justice for their daughters by filing a case that resulted to warrants of arrests against notorious human rights violators such as Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr.,” said Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, convenor of Tanggol Bayi and a former political prisoner from the illegally arrested and tortured Morong 43 health workers.
Burgos, whose son Jonas was abducted in April 2007, has been at the forefront of the campaign to surface her son and all victims of enforced disappearances as chairperson of Desaparecidos. Deunida, a former laundrywoman in Malate, Manila, is the most known figure among urban poor leaders in defense of their right to decent housing, livelihood and socio-economic rights.
Clamor said that it is important that, beyond the pomp and commercialized celebrations of Mother’s Day worldwide, the general public should be reminded of the simple yet significant lives of mothers who are in fact fighting for a better world for their children.
Cristina Palabay, spokesperson of Tanggol Bayi, said that it is unfortunate that, as the public commemorates this day, rights violations continue to impair the well-being of women human rights defenders, with the recent reported cases of harassment, vilification, illegal arrest and detention.
She cited the arrest and incarceration based on trumped up charges of health worker Helen Igloria, a mother of three children, from Zamboanga del Norte; and the continuing harassment and threats to her life against Benedictine nun Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB, and secretary general of Panalipdan! Mindanao, an environmental organization in defense of indigenous people’s rights against big corporate mining.
“These women are dedicated human rights workers who are being vilified by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with Oplan Bayanihan as their tool of terror. They are not merely made vulnerable by such attacks against their persons, they are made fair targets for extrajudicial killings and further rights violations,” Palabay commented.
Barangay officials in Davao Oriental reported they were gathered by the 28th Infantry Battalion for an assembly last March 2, 2012, when 1st Lt. Hermie Montelibano, member of the battalion’s Civil Military Operations (CMO) spoke at the assembly, and said according to witnesses, “Kahinumdom mo adtong bag-o lang nga gipatay nga Italian Priest Fr. Tentorio? NPA man to! Naa pod nagpaila nga madre siya, pero dili siya mdre kay NPA man. Stella ang ngalan.” (Do you remember the recently killed Italian Priest Fr. Tentorio? He was an NPA! There’s also a woman introducing herself as a nun, but she’s not a nun because she’s an NPA. Stella is her name.)
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Spokesperson, 09175003879
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
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
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.