desaparecidos write letters to Pope Francis
November 2, 2014
MANILA – “Your
Holiness, please intercede for us in seeking justice for our
disappeared loved ones,” wrote families of desaparecidos to Pope
Francis as they gathered at Plaza Miranda on All Souls Day.
As a renewal of vows to seek
justice, they lighted candles and offered flowers to remember those
who were forcibly abducted and disappeared by state security forces
since martial law up to the present.
“It has been the practice of
families and relatives of victims of enforced and involuntary
disappearances to gather every November 2. Beyond remembering, we come
together as a reminder that our loved ones have yet to be surfaced and
the state’s policy of enforced disappearances be stopped,” said
Desaparecidos secretary general Aya Santos.
It has become more
significant as families of desaparecidos gathered to join the nation
in awaiting the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines in January
Santos explained they have
followed and listened to series of statements Pope Francis on justice
and human rights. For the families, his visit is an opportune time to
voice out the injustice and rights violations in the Philippines.
“Hope springs when on
several occasions he made clear his firm stands to defend human rights
and in seeking social justice. We turn to the Pope for support because
under the current regime of Noynoy Aquino, human rights violations
against the people intensify without let up. We stand as testimonies
to the gross situation of human rights here,” Santos said.
Santos said there have been
21 victims of abduction under Pres. Aquino and has since added up to
the number of desaparecidos since the Marcos dictatorship.
Despite the passage of the
Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, the crime of enforced disappearance
continues as a state policy under Oplan Bayanihan, Aquino’s
counter-insurgency program. Also, as a DAP recipient program, it uses
public funds to abduct, torture and disappear persons. It also uses
funds to coddle the likes of butcher Jovito Palparan who is a ‘free
man’ at Fort Bonifacio.
“We pray that the good Pope
will listen to our plea and stand one with us in calling to stop
enforced disappearances in the Philippines. Dear Pope, please heed our
call for justice. We cry out to surface all the disappeared, in the
Philippines and other parts of the world, such as in Latin America and
Argentina, the Pope’s homeland,” said Santos.
Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio,
Pope Francis is from Argentina, a nation that also suffered the worst
kind of human rights violations under a dictatorial rule in the 1970s.