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
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
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
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
"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
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.