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Press Release: Women’s rights group to Phil Justice Dept and Pres. Aquino: File the Cadapan-Em

by Tanggol Bayi

November 25, 2011

On the International Day to End Violence Against Women (IDEVAW)

As women all over the world commemorate the International Day to End Violence against Women(IDEVAW) today, November 25, women rights group Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women)-Philippines called on President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and the Dept. of Justice to file the Cadapan-Empeno case in court initiated by the relatives of women human rights defenders Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and render justice to victims by prosecuting former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Major Gen. Jovito Palparan for cases of human rights violations.

Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi convenor, said the criminal case was filed by Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeno, mothers of the two disappeared UP students, against Palparan and other military officers involved in the abduction, torture, rape, arbitrary detention and other crimes against the two women and farmer Manuel Merino. It was submitted for resolution during the third week of October 2011, and yet no decision has been rendered by the DOJ up to this time.

Palabay noted that during the Arroyo presidency, there were a total of 1,206 victims of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution (EJKs for short) in the Philippines. Of the total number, 153 are women and 476 are human rights defenders (HRDs). Sherlyn and Karen are among these victims. There were 206 victims of enforced or involuntary disappearance 31 of whom are women and 68 are HRDs. Victims of illegal arrest and detention number 2,059 victims. As of October 31, 2011, 356 individuals remain incarcerated, 251 of them were arrested under GMA’s watch, while 35 of them women.

“Arroyo and her henchman Palparan should immediately be prosecuted and put behind bars for these violations. Aside from the Cadapan-Empeno cases, members of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) and the Morong 43 have already filed civil cases against Arroyo, while Mrs. Edita Burgos, mother of disappeared activist Jonas, also filed criminal charges against military officials this year, yet there are no significant developments or movements in the cases they filed in court,” she commented.

Palabay warned that such inutile stance of Aquino in going after Arroyo for human rights violations bespeaks of his complicity and record in inflicting the same human rights violations during his one and half year in office, with his counter insurgency policy Oplan Bayanihan in place. She cited 56 victims of extrajudicial killings in the 15 months of the Aquino administration, while there were eight victims of enforced disappearances.

“Oplan Bayanihan inspires the conduct of military and police operations against activists and the general public, thus the spate of rights violations under Aquino. These killings and rights violations should stop and this state of impunity should be ended,” Palabay said.

November 25 marks the date of the brutal murder of the Mirabal sisters by the military forces of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, thus women’s organizations worldwide such as the International Women’s Alliance (IWA) and the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) have observed the day as the IDEVAW. Tanggol Bayi is a member of IWA and APWLD.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi Spokesperson (09175003879)

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