[Press Release] Having no tombs to visit, the families of victims of enforced disappearance hold their traditional All Souls’ Day commemoration at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani

Photo by Richie Supan

Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND)
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD)
02 November 2018

Having no tombs to visit, the families of victims of enforced disappearance and other human rights defenders hold their traditional All Souls’ Day commemoration today at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani grounds in Quezon City.

A daupang-palad begins at 4:00 p.m., followed by a holy mass at 5:00 p.m., and a procession at 6:00 p.m.

Daupang-palad seeks to contextualize from a human rights lens the martyrdom and heroism of the disappeared in the current national situation.

“As we celebrate the lives of our beloved desaparecidos, who fought for the rights and welfare of the poor and marginalized, we become more acutely aware of the imperative of sustaining the struggle for this cause,” said Nilda L. Sevilla, FIND Co-chairperson, and sister of disappeared labor and human rights lawyer Hermon C. Lagman.

“Respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights, freedom of expression, education for all, national sovereignty, territorial integrity, good governance, social justice and peace – causes that the heroes and martyrs aspired for are yet to be realized today,” Sevilla added.

Other family members and human rights defenders concurred as they cite: unabated torture, drug war-related killings and disappearances; soaring prices of goods and services; uncontained corruption particularly in the Bureau of Customs; derogation of the country’s territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea; mockery of separation of powers among the executive, Congress and the Supreme Court; and shrinking democratic or civic space.

Along with other human rights defenders, Mary Aileen D. Bacalso, AFAD Secretary General, paid tribute to the disappeared and victims of extrajudicial killings. As she echoed Bishop Broderick Pabillo’s clarification that All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day should be a celebration of life, Bacalso said that “These occasions should not be surrounded by darkness associated with death, but by the light of the courage and inspiring lives of the disappeared and other freedom fighters.”

The procession is reminiscent of the religious rituals and assemblies staged by political activists during Marcos’ martial law regime that banned mass mobilizations, protest rallies and labor strikes.

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