The International Day of the Disappeared is commemorated globally every August 30 to demand justice and remember struggles of thousands of victims of enforced disappearances who were secretly imprisoned or killed by reactionary states.
Victims in the Philippines include Elena Tijamo, a development worker in Central Visayas who was abducted by agents of the Duterte regime in Bantayan, Cebu on July 13.
Relatives and supporters of desaparacidos also remembered Manobo peasants Maki Bail and David Mogul, members of the Kesasabanay Dulangan Manobo who were abducted in Barangay Margues, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat, as well as Imelda Hayahay, a peasant leader abducted by soldiers from her home at Mabini, Compostela Valley. The victims have not been surfaced since the abductions.
It has also been two years since Lora Manipis and Jeruel Domingo were last seen. They were abducted by state agents while traveling in Kabacan, North Cotabato in February 2018. Manipis was a consultant of the National Democratic Front-Far Southern Mindanao and her husband Domingo was a Red fighter who served in Sarangani and South Cotabato.
The aforementioned individuals are among the 13 individuals who were abducted and not surfaced by the current regime. Half of the total number of desaparecidos under Rodrigo Duterte are farmers and Lumads. These include two Lumad farmers who were abducted by state agents and goons of a mining company in November 2016.
In every enforced disappearance, regimes always deny their involvement in the crime to deny victims justice, due process and rights accorded them. These violations are perpetrated in the context of broader attacks on civilians and their communities which is considered a crime against humanity. In the Philippines, the reactionary state has already recorded a long list of victims of enforced disappearances from the Marcos dictatorship until the current Duterte regime. Human rights groups Desaparecidos and Karapatan disclosed that there are already 1,890 desaparecidos in the Philippines.
The first victim of enforced disappearance was Charlie del Rosario, a teacher at the Philippine College of Commerce (currently the Polytechnic University of the Philippines) and one of the founders of Kabataang Makabayan. He was last seen in March 19, 1971. He was abducted by agents of the Marcos regime while mounting campaign posters.
Nearly 43% of the total number of victims were recorded during regime of Corazon Aquino who ironically rose to power at the heels of the anti-dictatorship struggle. Vigilante groups such as the “Alsa Masa” were formed and backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines during her regime. These groups were responsible for numerous cases of enforced disappearance of activists and human rights defenders.
The highest number of NDFP consultants who fell victim to enforced disappearances were recorded during the US-Arroyo regime. When the regime ended the peace negotiations, 11 consultants and their companions and relatives were abducted and no longer surfaced. Victims include father and son Rogelio and Gabriel Calubad, couple Prudencio Calubid and Celina Palma, their nephew Gloria Soco, and CPP official Leo Velasco. Under the command of Arroyo’s butcher Gen. Jovito Palparan, abductions of activists in Central Luzon escalated. The victims include University of the Philippines students Sherilyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, as well as Jonas Burgos, son of a renowned journalist.
Until today, the victims are sought by their families and justice remains elusive.