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Philippine News Digest 132

October 8, 2007 · 


=Cases of abandonment of OFW families rising
=Prosecution of security forces in political killings sought
=2 abducted UP students alive?

Cases of abandonment of OFW families rising
OWWA is alarmed over hike in cases of family disintegration
Dexter A. See

BAGUIO CITY – The rapid increase in abandonment and disintegration of families of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Cordillera during a one-year period is greatly contributing to social problems.

This was reported by Manuela Peña, regional director of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in the Cordillera, who disclosed that three of 10 members of families of OFWs seeking assistance from their office are complaining of disintegration of their families.

It was learned that the complaints of the family members of OFWs included non-remittance, non-communication to spouse, and eventual disappearance and abandonement.

She said that the number of the reported abandonment cases is so high that it warrants a shift in the focus of OWWA from economic upliftment to the social cost of deployment abroad.

Pena said that the principal reason for the sudden rise in abandonment cases is physical separation from the family of the OFW, adding that OWWA is working on various programs to prepare the OFW and the family members to face the serious effects of physical separation.

She said the reports were sent to her office by family members of documented OFWs as well as the undocumented ones.

At present, there are at least 1.2 million members of OWWA in the Cordillera. This is roughly two percent of the total membership of OWWA.

Prosecution of security forces in political killings sought
Associated Press
Last updated 02:56pm (Mla time) 10/10/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government has vowed to strengthen efforts to prosecute security forces allegedly involved in political killings to demonstrate it does not condone human rights violations.

“We want to correct the international perception that government has not been addressing the problems on extrajudicial killings, and the best way to be able to show this is not by denial but by getting the facts and the cases … and making the courts and the prosecution move,” acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said Wednesday.

She said she ordered prosecutors to “expedite and prioritize” cases of human rights violations and killings by “agents of the state” — law enforcers and soldiers.

“Agents of the state must, by way of example, be made accountable for their actions,” she said.

The US-based Human Rights Watch, a government commission that investigated killings last year and a UN human rights expert have implicated security forces in the deaths of scores of left-wing activists.

The military has denied any involvement, pointing instead to communist rebels as being responsible.

Devanadera directed prosecutors to conduct marathon investigations and resolve cases in 60 days. Prosecutors also will have to ensure successive trial dates and avoid postponements of hearings, and their work will be monitored by an assistant chief state prosecutor.

The National Bureau of Investigation’s task force investigating human rights and political killings will be boosted with DNA and forensics experts, she said.

Devanadera said the justice department would focus initially on 22 cases referred to it by the Presidential Human Rights Committee. She expects the number to increase and called on citizens and witnesses to come forward with information in exchange for government protection.

The human rights group Karapatan has reported that more than 800 people, many of them left-wing activists and their supporters, have been killed by security forces since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took power in 2001. Close to 200 others have been abducted and believed to have been killed.

Human rights activists fear the number of political killings and enforced disappearances will increase following Arroyo’s declaration she wants to end the 39-year-old communist insurgency by the time she steps down in 2010.

2 abducted UP students alive?
By Jaime Laude
Thursday, October 11 2007 (

The two University of the Philippines (UP) students who went missing following their alleged abduction in Bulacan last year were reportedly seen alive at an Army camp in Pangasinan, Akbayan Rep. Loretta Anne Rosales said yesterday.

Rosales informed Army chief Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano about this latest development at a forum held at the Ciudad Fernandina in Greenhills, San Juan.

She sought Yano’s help to check on reports that the missing UP students are being held in the camp.

Rosales was referring to Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno, who were allegedly abducted by unidentified armed men suspected to be military agents in Hagonoy, Bulacan last year.

The two were conducting field research while integrating with the farmers in Hagonoy at the time of their abduction.

Cadapan was two months pregnant at the time of the abduction, while Empeno was an active member of the League of the Filipino Students (LFS).

Cadapan showed up at their house in June this year accompanied by several military-looking guys to pick her clothes.

Cadapan and Empeno’s reported presence at an Army camp in Pangasinan, when brought up by Rosales, initially triggered barbed exchanges between her and Yano.

Yano dismissed the information as plain rumor and pointed out that it is not government policy for the troops to engage in enforced disappearances or in extra-judicial killings.

Rosales told Yano that she is disclosing this information to him so the Army could act and verify reports that the two are detained inside an Army camp in Pangasinan.

“I believe you, this is not a government policy. But we may have scalawags. Okay, I’ll take your word for that. I believe you because you say so, but in a situation like this where there are evidences, cannot we go out of our way to Pangasinan to seek out?” she said.

Rosales said if the reports are true, the mothers of Cadapan and Empeno should be allowed to visit their daughters. Their release would be another issue because it would entail the legal process, Rosales said.

Yano told Rosales that she should back her story up because he, as Army chief, does not even have any knowledge about it.

“We have many camps. Just saying that they are in a camp is not enough. Just give us the name of the camp and we will do it. Definitely, if we have suspects from the ranks of the military, I as the commander will be the first one to surrender him,” Yano assured Rosales.

updated October 11, 2007


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