Letter to the Editor
September 28, 2010
Dear Mr. Editor,
October 8 is just around the corner when the first one hundred days of Pnoy will soon be over. For the families of the disappeared in the Philippines and the rest of the world, the president whom they supported during his candidacy, has yet to open the door of his office to the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) and the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) which are repeatedly requesting for an appointment with him during his first one hundred days in office.
While the president of the land is extremely busy with matters of utmost concern, families of this very cruel form of human rights violation, i.e. enforced disappearance, equally deserve his attention and action. The pain of waiting; the uncertainty of their disappeared loved ones’ whereabouts; the not-so-remote possibility of death; the absence of closure – all these make enforced disappearance a very cruel form, if not the cruelest form of human rights violation. It is perhaps, for this reason that the late former president Corazon Aquino met with the families of the disappeared during her first days in office in 1986.
The Philippines is a country with outstanding cases of enforced disappearances that date back since the tyrannical and rapacious Marcos regime up to the former GMA administration. Thus, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, in May 2006, requested for an official invitation from the government to visit the country for the second time. Up to this date, the Philippine government has never replied to the still pending request.
Moreover, as then candidate for membership to the UN Human Rights Council, the Philippines pledged to the latter to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. To date, the promise remains unfulfilled. The more than 15-year old bill penalizing enforced disappearances has never seen the light of day. On the contrary, cases remain unresolved and the number of cases is increasing.
How many Father Rudy Romanos, Hermon Lagmans, Jonas Burgoses and many other desaparecidos will have to be sacrificed before the altar of freedom so that the government listens to the cry of the families of the disappeared?
Yesterday, our neighboring country, Indonesia became the 86th country to sign the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Indonesia has given a very good example to its neighboring Asian countries such as the Philippines to once and for all eradicate enforced disappearances from the face of the earth.
We will never tire in calling this new administration to listen to the cry of the families of the disappeared in the Philippines and the rest of the world. But until when shall we wait for the fruits of our struggle?
Sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance without further delay!
Enact into law the more than 15 year-old bill penalizing enforced disappearances!
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO