Friday, June 26, 2009

Remembering Karen and Sherlyn

I logged in to Facebook earlier and was reminded through Prof. Judy Taguiwalo’s status post that today marks the third year since the forced disappearance of UP student-activists Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan.

Karen and Sherlyn are active members of the militant groups League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan. They were doing research for their theses when they were abducted by military men on June 26, 2006 in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

A local farmer, Manuel Merino, who was also abducted with Karen and Sherlyn, eventually managed to escape after months of captivity. His testimony in court has confirmed that the AFP is behind the abduction.

I remember being horrified while I first read the blotter reports and eyewitness testimonies, while I interviewed Karen and Sherlyn's families for a news article for the Collegian, while I read Manuel Merino's tales of torture. My horror was rivaled only by my new-found disgust and anger at what the government can do to "neutralise" anyone at the slightest suspicion of being an "insurgent."

I remember being enraged by Jovito Palparan's nonchalant denials of his involvement, because he projects the easy demeanor of someone who is above the law, who can get away with whatever he does.

What has happened since the two disappeared? Writs from the courts have been issued and the high tribunal has ruled that the military is behind the abductions. A UN rapporteur has declared that the government is responsible for orchestrating extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Human rights groups and other progressive organizations have tirelessly fought in court and in the streets. But like in many other cases of missing, jailed, or murdered activists, it seems as if these otherwise valiant efforts have yet to yield results.

Three years is a long time for waiting. To me, it seemed as if it happened just yesterday, but to the closest friends and family of Karen and Sherlyn, three years must have felt like an eternity. To the mothers of Karen and Sherlyn who have fought relentlessly, who have attended numerous court hearings and protest rallies in the hopes of being reunited with their daughters, it must have been a long, lonely, and painful process.

Three years is a long time. What to do? I guess we don't just wait for justice to be served. We fight for it. Personally, I don't know everything that I could do to help and I suspect I alone could not do much. I could start, though, by saying I have not forgotten. I remember.

(Artwork by Jether Amar)


cb :: 林偉文 said...

that's terrible

Victor Gregor said...

it is. i have not hated someone with such seriousness as i hated palparan and his cohorts. they are not human.