PRESS STATEMENT - November 25, 2005
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (VAW)
KARAPATAN calls for end to GMA regime’s violence
We, human rights advocates and defenders from KARAPATAN, join the international community in observing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW), with a call for an end to Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime of violence and state terror.
November 25 marks the day that commemorates the lives of the Mirabal sisters, the "Unforgettable Butterflies," for valiantly fighting the tyrannical regime of General Trujillo in the Dominican Republic before they were summarily killed by the dictator’s henchmen in 1960.
In the Philippines today, we are outraged by the violence committed against women and men, children and the elderly in all sectors of society, committed by the murderous GMA regime.
We are outraged at the terrorism and violence unleashed by the GMA government on the Filipino people, including the abduction and subsequent murder of former youth activist leader, Maribel Tablang-Supeña and her husband Danilo, who were taken by soldiers from their parent’s house in Quezon, Nueva Ecija on October 26. Their lifeless bodies that bore torture marks and placed inside separate sacks were found on November 20 in San Jose City. Maribel was four months pregnant at the time of her death. The following day, on November 21, another woman Eufemia Borra, 51, and an expectant mother Alma Bartoline, 30, were among those killed in the massacre of farmers by soldiers belonging to the 19th Infantry Battalion in San Agustin, Palo, Leyte. Bartoline was seven months pregnant. Just over a month ago, on October 2, Bayan Muna leader Priscilla Esteban of Guimba, Nueva Ecija was abducted and her lifeless body was found on October 5, still hogtied and blindfolded.
Just yesterday afternoon, November 24, Emmylou Buñi, 25 year-old KARAPATAN-Central Visayas worker was shot by suspected intelligence agents belonging to the 78th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army in Tuburan, Cebu. She is being treated in a hospital for a gunshot wound in the right chest.
We decry these brutal attacks of government soldiers, their death squads and paramilitary groups against unarmed civilians and human rights workers like ourselves. Twenty-two (22) KARAPATAN human rights workers have already been killed under the GMA regime, eight (8) of them are women. From January 20, 2001 to November 22, 2005, there have been 507 victims of political killings in the country, 154 persons are missing. Thousands still have been victims of forced evacuations, aerial bombardments, illegal arrest and detention, torture and harassments.
We deplore that lives of human rights defenders and journalists are under serious threat from forces most guilty of wanton violations of human rights. By not punishing human rights violators, her acquiescence and silence on the continuing killings of activists, lawyers, priests, human rights workers, leaders of partylist organizations as well as farmers and workers, Mrs. Arroyo tolerates and encourages the continuing impunity of these forces on their systematic and recurring attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Today is also remembered in Canada and Australia as white ribbon day to signify opposition to VAW. It is a most opportune time for the broad anti-Arroyo alliance in the Philippines called the White Ribbon Movement to hold a liturgical service for truth and justice. KARAPATAN joins the White Ribbon Movement in the fervent prayer that justice would flow like a river for all victims of state-terrorism and that big numbers of people would pour into the streets to end the barbarism of the Commander-in-Chief and her cohorts in the military.