Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 34      Oct.1 - 7, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines








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Melo Commission a ‘Whitewash,’ Victims’ Kin Say

Posted 7:40 p.m., Oct. 2, 2006

Families of victims of political killings and abductions called the investigation by the Melo Commission a "whitewash" meant to clear the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Arroyo administration of culpability in the human rights abuses.


Evangeline Hernandez, spokesperson of Hustisya (Justice), said, "The Commission's mandate is like a marshmallow – sweet on the outside but empty. It will never give us justice." 


Hernandez is the mother of Benjaline Hernandez, Southern Mindanao deputy secretary-general of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) who was slain in Davao in 2002 by soldiers and paramilitia.


Erlinda Cadapan, mother of abducted University of the Philippines (UP) student Sherlyn Cadapan, said the Melo Commission preferred to hear the side of the perpetrators, who merely denied having anything to do with the killings and abductions. 


Cadapan said the victims' families were "armed" with evidence and witnesses but the commission has yet to get their side. 


At an Oct. 2 press conference in Quezon City, convenors of Hustisya put their thumbs down in front of a "gravestone" bearing the number of victims of political killings and abductions, which was being painted white by an activist masked as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in military jacket.


Hernandez said they would participate in the commission's investigation on the condition that the standards set by the Amnesty International (AI) were followed. In a memorandum to Arroyo, AI set standards for an independent investigation, which include having a victim-centered investigation, and the expansion of the commission members.


Jocelyn Javier, spokesperson of Mothers and Relatives Against Tyranny (Martyr), was also present at the press conference.  Her husband Armando Javier, Jr. was killed in their home in Cuyapo town, Nueva Ecija province a year ago.


Javier said a year after her husband was killed, she has yet to get justice, and is herself being pursued by military men.


Karapatan public information officer Ruth Cervantes said the Melo Commission sent her group an invitation only on its fourth hearing. Cervantes said the commission asked Karapatan to "convince" the victims' families to participate in the investigation.


"Mahirap naming gawin iyan dahil nakikita namin na patungong whitewash ang nangyayari" (That is hard for us to do because we see that the developments are headed toward a whitewash), she said.


Cadapan said that the commission could show its sincerity by observing the hearings at the Court of Appeals for the petition for habeas corpus of nine victims of forced disappearances.


"Nasa seventh hearing na kami. Kung sana dumalo doon ang mga miyembro ng Melo Commission, at doon mismo makita nila ang pagsisinungaling ng mga military" (We are now on the seventh hearing. We wish the members of the Melo Commission would attend the hearing and see for themselves how the military lies), she said.  Bulatlat


© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Media Center

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