CAED Statement on the Celebration of the International Day of the Disappeared
30 August 2011
We, the families of the disappeared and human rights advocates in the Philippines, gather today to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared through our activity, Run Against Enforced Disappearance (RAGED).
We have RAGED that this day should never have been commemorated if only States around the world including all their instrumentalities had respected the human rights of their citizens.
We have RAGED that enforced disappearance is still being used as a repressive tool to stifle dissent and to silence political opposition. It is one of the cruelest forms of human rights violations. It violates practically all civil liberties and human rights including the right to life.
We have RAGED that the cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances are, by their very nature, not only difficult to investigate and prosecute, but they continue to occur while past incidences unabated and unresolved. The Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) has documented 2,160 victims of enforced disappearances since the dark years of Martial Law. Six victims have been reported under the present Aquino administration. Lamentably, with the absence of prosecution, impunity is the order of the day and the number of victims is doomed to multiply.
We have RAGED that existing legal measures that provide safeguards for lives and liberties have proven to be inadequate and ineffective to address this social malady. The proposed laws that seek to criminalize enforced disappearance have been filed and re-filed in the Philippine Congress in the past two decades but remain pending up to this day. Nevertheless, we laud the clear resolve of the legislature as manifested in the approval by the Senate on third and final reading of Senate Bill 2817 and the adoption by the Joint Committees of Human Rights and Justice of the House of Representatives the 14th Congress – approved House Bill 5888 as substitute bill for plenary consideration.
We have RAGED that despite efforts to address this global scourge at the national and international levels through the adoption and entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, this treaty still needs to be signed and ratified by all States to ensure universal application. To date, this international human rights instrument has 88 signatories and 29 States Parties. Unfortunately, the Philippines is not yet a signatory much less a State Party to this Convention despite its voluntary pledges and commitment submitted before the UN Human Rights Council to support the treaty.
We have RAGED that after one year in office, the Aquino administration has yet to kindle hope in those who are searching for their disappeared loved ones and seeking justice for them. Even the President’s 2nd State-of-the-Nation-Address was devoid of a clear human rights agenda.
We have RAGED by wearing plastic expressionless masks as a symbol of the indifference shown by the authorities and to depict the continuing anguish of the victims and their families.
We have RAGED by showing our firm solidarity with all families of the disappeared around the world who have to deal with the constant pain, trauma and uncertainty that hinder them from moving on and finding closure.
We have RAGED as we pledge our staunch commitment to relentlessly pursue the search for the truth, to bring individual perpetrators to justice and hold the State accountable, and to redeem the dignity of the victims and their families.
On this occasion of the International Day of the Disappeared, we have RAGED in order to pay tribute to all the desaparecidos of the world whose memory shall never ever be forgotten and whose continuing disappearance is a unifying challenge to our Coalition to remain steadfast in our search for truth and justice.
COALITION AGAINST ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE (CAED)
ASIAN FEDERATION AGAINST INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCES (AFAD)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL – PHILIPPINE SECTION (AI)
BALAY REHABILITATION CENTER (BALAY)
CENTER FOR LEGAL RIGHTS AND DEVELOPMENT (CLRD)
FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OF INVOLUNTARY DISAPPEARANCE (FIND)
KILUSAN PARA SA PAMBANSANG DEMOKRASYA (KPD)
MEDICAL ACTION GROUP (MAG)
PHILIPINE ALLIANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES (PAHRA)
TASK FORCE DETAINEES OF THE PHILIPPINES (TFDP)