Thursday, June 12, 2008

Search for Jonas, a Year After

Geneva - United Nations
June 4, 2008-06-05

It has been more than a year since my son Jonas was abducted in April 28, 2007. Since April 29, the family has embarked on an extensive search for Jonas. We have availed of all the peaceful remedies provided in a democratic country. These remedies, both personal and formal, consisted of appeals to and complaints filed with all the concerned agencies: the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Office of the President and the Executive Department, the Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights. The family has likewise participated in various kinds of mass actions as well as prayer rallies and masses, which has merited the coverage of both print and broadcast media. We have also brought our case to the attention of the international community through the United Nations. And still Jonas remains missing. We, as well other families of desaparecidos in the Philippines remain at ground zero because we still do not know the fate that befell our loved ones. The truth has been effectively kept from us.

Evidences uncovered in the ten months of hearing (in 33 sessions and with 12 witness, 6 of whom were hostile military officers) has confirmed the family's belief that the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly the 56th Infantry Battalion is guilty of abducting Jonas and that the highest officers of the AFP are guilty of covering up.

Today, from the recent enforced disappearances, we still see that the culture of impunity characterize the abductions. We also see new forms being used by the perpetrators. First the individual is abducted and unheard of for 3 days then he is surfaced in some jail in a remote place with charges filed against him. Within the days that the victim is held incommunicado he is tortured by his captors.

The pattern in disappearances is clear. A person is disappeared and when his disappearance is published in the newspapers, this victim is demonized. Furthermore, the military feed the media with lies that the victim was killed by the rebel group because of an internal purge.

The torture of the families of the disappeared continue. With no one being convicted and the government being in a constant state of denial, as a result of which the issue is not addressed, much less solved, justice is denied to both the disappeared and his family.

To be candid, we cannot see any glimmer of hope coming from the government police forces nor from the government's executive department. To date, the case of Jonas is up for resolution by the court of appeals. I bring my case to your attention because I fear that there would be no other venue left to me. I must find my son and I pray that I find him alive and well. But to do this we must find the truth.

Mother of Jonas

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