OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO lll
August 26, 2010
His Excellency President Aquino,
We are writing to you few days before the International Day of the Disappeared on August 30, 2010. The 13th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council held in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2010 made an official resolution for the UN General Assembly to consider this day as official. Doing so would be the UN’s concrete tribute to the desaparecidos of the world who, plucked from the bosom of their families, continue to be deprived of their most basic right to life and liberty.
As the International Day of the Disappeared is drawing to a close, on one hand, we nurture our frustration on former Presisdent Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom we met twice – first, immediately after she assumed power in 2001 and second, just before she had to step down. On the other hand, we express our optimism that your new administration will give concrete sources of hope for the families of the disappeared in our country especially during your first 100 days as the country’s highest official.
In a joint letter by the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) dated 9 August 2010, which we respectfully addressed to His Excellency and which your office received on the same day, we requested for a meeting with you preferably on September 1 for reasons we cited. We are hopeful that in a meeting with you, we can personally articulate the agonizing cry of the families of the disappeared.
This year, the United Nations Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which has been signed by 83 states and ratified by 19, will enter into force after the ratification of one more state. Despite the government’s voluntary pledge to the UN when it filed its candidacy as a member its Human Rights Council, the Philippines is not yet a signatory and a party to this treaty. Moreover, almost 16 years had passed since families of the disappeared have been lobbying for the enactment into law of the anti-enforced disappearance bill, yet, our much-desired law has not yet seen the light of day. If enacted into law, it would be the first anti-enforced disappearance law in Asia.
As we are soon commemorating the Desaparecidos’ Day, please listen to our knocking at the doors of the Malacanang Palace, concretely by giving us the much-needed audience. Granting our request will serve as your precious gift to the disappeared and their families, whose issues were totally ignored by the former president, notoriously known to the international community, to have grossly violated human rights, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
His Excellency, we look forward that we be received in the presidential palace soon.
Thank you very much.
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO