Groups ask Duterte to stop enforced disappearances
DAVAO CITY – Families of disappeared and human rights activists have called on President Rodrigo Duterte to take actions in stopping alleged abductions by state agents of civilians in the southern Philippines. familiesand “Families Desaparecidos”,three A Mindanaonational missingfor of of disappearedthe Justice network farmers Disappeared calledsaid or of Mogul, Maki BailDavis and Saypudin Rascal – and another civilian in Luzon - Jennifer Yuson – had been abducted. Their fate remains unknown.
“Three of the four desaparecidos under Duterte are from Mindanao. They are testament as to how the Duterte regimepolicy against continuesthe same peopleto brutalimplement who rise up against injustice,” said Concepcion Empeno, chairperson of Desaparecidos. “President Duterte has destroyed the road to just and lasting peace, while we continue to search for justice under this regime that has continued the same callous policy of abductions, rights violations and fascist rule, she added.
The group also cited the disappearance of peace talk consultants of the National Democratic Front and the stalled negotiations with communist rebels, and continued military attacks on communities and civilian falsely accused as supporters or sympathizers of the New People’s Army.
Among the victims of so-called enforced disappearance were Leo Velasco, Prudencio Calubid and his wife Celina Palma; their niece Gloria Soco and NDF staff Ariel Beloy and Antonio Lacno; Rogelio Calubad and his son Gabriel; Nestor Intise and his wife Nelly; Leopoldo Ancheta, Philip Limjoco and Cesar Batralo.
But most of them arrested in previous administrations were members of the rebel group and facing numerous charges and are being detained by the government.
“We have repeatedly urged the Duterte government to act on these complaints, if it is serious in pursuing peace, but no effort to look into these cases has transpired since,” Empeno said.
Belith Batralo, a sister of one of the detained NDF consultants, said the continued disappearances of these consultants speak volumes on the bloody path the Duterte regime is taking. “While it continues to blabber about the insincerity and disinterest of the NDF on the peace talks, President Duterte and his military go berserk and kill, abduct, arrest and threaten communities,” Batralo said.
Despite all the accusations against Duterte, the group still urged the government to resume peace talks with communist rebels and at the same time appealed to the people “to take on the struggle for justice for their loved ones.”
“It may take more years to finally surface our disappeared, but it will be our worst nightmare to see the same ordeal we have experienced happen to more families and Filipinos. We will not blink an eye in stopping enforced disappearances,” Batralo said.
Duterte has trashed peace talks with communist leaders and abandoned efforts by his peace negotiators to convince rebels to stop attacks on government and military targets. Rebels have vowed to continue attacks on military targets as government peace negotiators failed miserably to convince the separatist group to sign a ceasefire accord and pursue talks aimed at ending the decades-old insurgency in the country.
Rebels demanded the immediate release of nearly 500 political prisoners, mostly commanders and leaders of the NPA, as a condition for the resumption of the stalled talks. Duterte already freed over 2 dozen communist leaders, but the NDF, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said the President should have released all political prisoners.
Students protest continued extrajudicial killings in the country.
A Muslim student holds a placard that reads “Stop killing innocent people” during a protest on extrajudicial killings.