Kin, friends of desaparecidos amplify call to surface loved ones

Sep. 04, 2022

Photo courtesy of Gabriela

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — Families and kin of the victims of enforced disappearances under Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice) and rights groups Karapatan are calling on the government to help them find their kin who were forcibly taken by state agents and were never seen by their loved ones to this day.

In commemoration of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, the groups’ renewed the call for justice for the 1,900 desaparecidos, from the Marcos dictatorship to Marcos Jr’s administration, including women’s rights advocate Elgene Mungcal and Anakpawis organizer Maria Elena Pampoza.

The two activists were believed to be abducted by suspected state agents in Moncada, Tarlac on July 3, 2022, three days after Marcos Jr. was inaugurated as president.

“From Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s bloody martial rule to his son’s current regime, hundreds of people — farmers, workers, activists, human rights defenders, among others — were forcibly taken and disappeared by state forces in their attempts to stifle dissent. All of them remain missing to this day,” said Isabel Batralo, Desaparecidos vice chairperson.

“We strongly reiterate the call to surface Elgene, Maria Elena, and all our loved ones,” she said.


Batralo criticized the government’s seeming disinterest in addressing the cases of disappearances, despite the enactment of Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act in 2012, and the non-signing and non-ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

She questioned the use of the law when it can’t punish those who perpetrate enforced disappearances. “When will we see the day when the government ratifies and/or implements laws and conventions, according to its obligations?” she said.

“All of us families of desaparecidos still don’t know what happened to our loved ones. Some of us, especially those whose relatives were abducted during the Marcos dictatorship, already died without seeing a glimmer of justice nor having even a slightest hint to their loved ones’ whereabouts,” Batralo said.

The fight continues

The group has urged the public to strengthen their support to the families and friends of the desaparecidos and other human rights violations, especially that “the Marcoses are back in power”.

They cited the case of martial law torture and rape survivor Adora Faye de Vera, whose husband Manuel Manaog, a community organizer, was abducted in 1990 and remains missing.

“With her recent arrest on fabricated charges, Adora is once again subjected to another form of injustice under another Marcos, while enduring the pain caused by the continuing disappearance of her husband,” Batralo said.

“Under a Marcos Jr. presidency, we recognize that it will be more challenging for us to demand justice, especially with the massive campaign to distort history and facts on the human rights violations committed during his father’s rule,” she added. “However, now is the time to let our voices speak the truths about our loved ones and strengthen demand for justice. We will not forget, and we will uphold justice and people’s rights.” (

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