At least 47 cases of enforced disappearances have been recorded under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the human rights group Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) has said.
FIND chair Nilda Lagman-Sevilla said “most” of these cases recorded as of October were “drug war-related.”
At a gathering of families of desaparecidos at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City on Friday, those who mourned victims from the Marcos regime joined those who lost loved ones in Duterte’s war on drugs.
IN THE DARK: Kin of desaparecidos remembering loved ones at Bantayog ng mga Bayani with mass presided by Angel Cortez pic.twitter.com/7xky9hv6nl— M. Claire Layug (@MClaireLayug) November 2, 2018
Lagman said their data gatherers found it "very difficult" to document cases during the current administration because families were reluctant to speak up and cooperate, even if at the presence of witnesses.
"Sometimes they will say that ‘Oh we saw them, how they were shot to death,’” Lagman said.
"However, when they are interviewed again, sometimes they change their testimony,” she added.
At the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, FIND chairperson Nilda Lagman lights a candle for her brother, Herman, who was never seen again since the martial law regime pic.twitter.com/rfL28bUGP9— M. Claire Layug (@MClaireLayug) November 2, 2018
Lagman, a sister of Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, also lit a candle for her other brother Hermon, a labor and human rights activist who remains missing after he was seized by government agents five years into the martial law.
Around 800 ‘desaparecidos' were reported during the dictatorial regime, most of them students and activists who disappeared without a trace.
“What is important is we remember the disappeared because we have no tombs to visit. But we always remember their martyrdom and heroism and the causes they fought for,” she said.
FIND urged the administration to put an end to enforced disappearances.
"We strongly urge the government to put an end to this odious practice of enforced disappearance, whether it is drug-related or as part of the counter-insurgency program of government,” Lagman said.
She reiterated the call for lawmakers to fast-track the passage of a bill that would promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders.
“We also call on the administration to enact immediately the human rights defenders protection bill into law because this will protect Filipinos who fight and defend the rights of others, not only their own human rights,” Lagman said. —NB, GMA News