This day marks a year since UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan were adbucted by alleged members of the military in Bulacan. I went to a press conference in Palma Hall regarding the anniversary this morning. Listening to the two students’ mothers can be heart-wrenching. A group of UP students and visiting students from different countries in Asia, together with Karen and Sherlyn’s mother, went to a military base in Balanga, Bataan the day before. When the military men were asked if the two UP students were at the base, they neither denied nor affirmed the accusation.
The mother of Sherlyn talked first. She expressed a slight hint of gratitude with reports of sightings of her daughter. Sherlyn was two months pregnant when she was abducted, and her mother believes that now, her grandchild is also held in detention. Karen’s mother was more in grief however, because there had been no reports of sightings, and she fears that her daughter is already dead. It was particularly tragic when she wept and said, “kahit katawan lang ng anak ko ilabas n’yo…” This commemoration of the two UP students disappearance prove to be more relevant in light of the incoming implementation of the “Human Security Act” in a few weeks.
Yesterday, I received more than a dozen forwarded text messages from friends in Mass Comm about a certain abduction that happened that morning within the college’s premises. The victim has not been identified, but witnesses have taken note of the car, which the abductors also seized, and its plate number. Throughout the day I’ve been receiving more than a dozen calls and text messages from friends who asked about my whereabouts or if I was okay. I highly appreciated the concern, though I sort of wondered why I was one of the first persons that came to their minds. Am I perceived to be that much of an “activist,”? Is it because I’m a frat member and the incident was probably frat-related? Or is it simply because they thought I drive the same car?
In any case, I’ve been scouring for more news and details about the said abduction, to no avail. Either way, I do hope it’s not another incident of political harrassment or fraternity violence.
Yesterday morning, two left-leaning activists and a journalist were assassinated. You know, the assassinations of almost 700+ civilians with the same political leanings and affiliations within five years under one president can not be just a coincidence. They can not simply be unrelated and isolated incidents as some people would like to believe. The seeming indifference, the lack of action, and even the joyful reactions of some government and military officials are indicators of who are behind all these.
Two student activists from the university were abducted almost two weeks ago in Bulacan. They are Karen Empeño, a BA Sociology student of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, and Sherlyn Cadapan, an award-winning triathlete from the College of Human Kinetics and was its representative to the University Student Council a few years back. They remain missing up to this moment. Witnesses, who are now in hiding for security reasons, and who were also present during the abduction, claim that vehicles used during the capture were military vehicles. The army denies these accusations.
However, General Jovito Palparan, popularly labeled as a butcher of leftists, issued a statement saying that these women were better off gone because they were New People’s Army members who extorted money from the townsfolk anyway. What the hell? These two ladies were simply volunteer researchers for a peasant group. For the sake of argument, let’s say they were NPA members, does it justify that they be abducted helplessly? Who knows what have become to the two right now. If they were indeed NPA members, then file charges against them! Abduction is never justified.
Gloria Arroyo’s administration hark the “rule of law” and “due process” everytime accusations and cases are hurled against her and her allies but whenever an activist gets assassinated or abducted, everything just gets shrugged off! Nothing can justify enforced assassinations or enforced abductions! This administration is really bent on crushing not only the New People’s Army, but all other legitimate groups expressing legitimate dissent.
Karen and Sherlyn are two new additions to the growing list of hundreds of abducted, arrested, and assassinated activists since President Arroyo came into power five years ago.