Monday, July 17, 2006

The State of the Nation

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

- Martin Niemöller, First they came...

The following is from the online petition for the immediate release of Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño. It is posted on the Philippine Collegian 2006-2007 website.

On June 26, 2006, bonnet-wearing armed men, suspected elements of the 7th Infantry Division, forcibly entered a house of local folk in Hagonoy, Bulacan and forcibly abducted Sherlyn, Karen and Manuel Merino, a local farmer. The armed men introduced themselves as ‘vigilantes.’

Sherlyn, who is two months pregnant, was hit in the stomach as she was shouting for help. Witnesses related that the armed men removed Karen’s shirt and used it to cover her face. They dragged the two women outside and rode off in a passenger jeepney vehicle.

Until now, Sherlyn and Karen have not yet surfaced. While the military denied their involvement in their forced disappearance, Major Gen. Jovito Palparan, head of the 7th ID, immediately accused them as members of the New People’s Army. In a statement released after the abduction, Gen. Palparan insultingly said that ‘they are better off gone.’

Sherlyn and Karen are student volunteers who went to Bulacan to conduct research on the peasant situation in the province. They are also known student leaders from the University of the Philippines (UP).

Sherlyn is an award-winning triathlete and a former College of Human Kinetics representative to the UP Diliman Student Council. Karen, on the other hand, is a Sociology major who was conducting research in the province for the completion of her thesis. They are also active members of Anakbayan and League of Filipino Students, respectively. These youth organizations have been maliciously tagged as ‘communist front organizations’ by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.