Monday, August 07, 2006

Where are our students?

From the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism blog:

Former UP student leaders condemn abductions, return of 'state-sponsored terrorism'

IT’S been over a month since University of the Philippines students Karen Empeño and Sheryl Cadapan have disappeared, along with their companion, farmer Manuel Merino, all of whom were reportedly forcibly taken by soldiers in Bulacan last June 26. The three remain missing despite the Supreme Court’s grant of the petition for habeas corpus filed by the students’ parents ordering the military to produce them in court last July 24.

The disappearance of two of its students — Empeño is with the Sociology Department of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy while Cadapan is with the College of Human Kinetics — has alarmed the UP Diliman community. In a July 12 resolution, the University Council, a body composed of faculty members, said it feared for the lives of the two, greatly concerned over the Arroyo government’s inaction about their disappearance.

Recently, former student leaders who served in the University Student Council (USC) in the Diliman campus have added their voices to express concern and condemnation of the two students’ abduction in the dead of night, calling it the “ultimate act of cowardice.”

The council alumni, which include Senator Francis Pangiinan and former education undersecretary Chito Gascon, both former USC chairpersons, also lashed out at the return of “state-sponsored terrorism” unheard of since the time of Marcos, and Arroyo’s lack of concern for the fate of the two students. (see statement below)

Meanwhile, Court of Appeals Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza ordered last week the group of Major General Jovito Palparan, commander of the 7th Infantry Division in whose area of jurisdiction the students were last seen, to produce them in court during the hearing tomorrow.

But the military says it cannot comply with the appelate court’s order, denying that any of its troops is holding the two students and Merino. Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Tolentino even suggested that activists who have been reported missing may have gone underground and joined the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Tolentino said the alleged abductions being blamed on the Army may only be a ploy to cover up the fact that they went underground. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), through spokesman Gregorio Rosal, however dismissed the claim as “absurd,” citing reports that several witnesses have pointed to the military or police as the perpetrators in most of the cases of disappearances.

As if alluding to Tolentino’s insinuation, Palparan, who guested via phone patch at the “Debate” talk show on GMA-7 last week, also kept saying that night that they have a certain Ka Tanya and Ka Siera in their custody after their arrest in Hagonoy.

Yesterday, the mothers of the two missing UP students went to the Army headquarters in Malolos to confront Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac, Task Force Bulacan commander, about Palparan’s claim but he denied any knowledge of the supposed arrest of two women NPA rebels.

Below is the text of the former student leaders’ statement:

Diliman, Quezon City

University of the Philippines, Diliman students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan were abducted by armed men around 2 a.m. on June 26. It has been a month since the students were taken and there is no word on their whereabouts or any indication that the government is acting on their forced abduction.

We are former members of the University Student Council, fellow student leaders and friends of Ms Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

We are deeply concerned that student leaders and activists are being threatened by the government.

We condemn the ultimate act of cowardice when masked armed men come in the dead of night to drag students from homes.

We condemn the return of state-sponsored terrorism on a scale that we have not seen since the time of Ferdinand Marcos.

We express our unqualified disappointment with the Arroyo government which has yet to express any hint of concern for the fate of these students.

We call on the Arroyo administration to mobilize its resources to assist in the recovery of these students.

We call on all sectors to join us in condemning forced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, and all forms of state-sponsored terror.

We call on all Filipinos to guard and honor human rights and human dignity that we fought for so valiantly at the cost of so many lives.

Concerned University Student Council Alumni, University of the Philippines, Diliman:

  • Abraham Rey Acosta, USC 1995-96
  • Grace Afuang, USC 1997-98
  • Rhona Agtay, USC 1995-96
  • Gigo Alampay, USC 1984-85
  • Gidget Alikpala, USC 1987-88
  • Almahdi “Aldean” Alonto, USC 2000-01
  • Tita Aquino, USC 1991-92
  • Jonas Bagas, USC 1997-98
  • Gay Bemeza, USC 1987-88
  • Marichu M. Bernardo, USC 1998-99
  • Ryan Cablitas, USC 1996-97
  • Percival Cendaña, USC 1995-96, USC 1996-97, USC 1997-98
  • Angelico Clerigo, USC 1998-99, USC 1999-2000
  • Forsyth Cordero, USC 2000-2001
  • Jed M. Eva III, USC 1995-96
  • Carlo Fabregas, USC 1997-98
  • JJ Fernandez, USC 1987-88, USC 1988-89
  • Chito Gascon, USC 1985-86
  • Dorothea Lazaro, USC 1998-99
  • Vincent Lazatin, USC 1986-87
  • Emil A. Liwanag, USC 1998-99
  • Cielo Magno, USC 1997-98, USC 1998-99, USC 1999-2000
  • Eyron Buera Magtibay, USC 1999-2000
  • Norman F. Manguinao, USC 1998-99, USC 1999-2000
  • Mardi Mapa-Suplido, USC 1985-86, USC 1986-87
  • Kate Natividad, USC 1998-99
  • Ramby Nolido, USC 1987-88
  • Len Pagalanan, USC 1998-99
  • Raymond Palatino, USC 1998-99, USC 2000-01
  • Liberty M. Palomo, USC 2000-01
  • GlennMark C. Pamplona, USC 1995-96, USC 1997-98
  • Kiko Pangilinan, USC 1985-86, USC 1986-87
  • Bien Peñaranda, USC 1999-2000
  • Aaron Karl D. Pundol, USC 1997-98, USC 1998-99
  • Charmaine G. Ramos, USC 1991-92
  • Nova Rellosa, USC 1989-90
  • Gil de los Reyes, USC 1985-86
  • Arnold Cesar O. Romero, USC 1999-2000
  • Katheryn Rualo, USC 1999-2000
  • J. Edward San Juan, USC 2000-01
  • Jill Santos, USC 1998-1999, 2006-2007
  • Raymond Sebastian, USC 1999-2000
  • Camille Sevilla, USC 1985-86
  • Grace Simbulan, USC 1997-98
  • Giovanni Tapang, USC 1990-91, USC 1993-94
  • Monette Velarde, USC 1999-2000

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