Monday, July 06, 2009

Launching the Human Rights Watch Report on the Davao Death Squad: Commemorating 10 years of Campaign against summary execution

The Human Rights Watch book on Davao Death Squad "You can die anytime"

Archbishop Fernando Capalla with Fr. Antonio Samson, SJ - Ateneo de Davao President

Atty. Manny Quibod - Ateneo College of Law dean and spokesperson of CASE

Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ - reciting his poem "Sanayan lang ang Pagpatay"

Yours truly (Fr. Picx, CASE spokesperson) giving the closing remarks.
From 2 to 5 pm this afternoon, we gathered at Finster Hall in the Ateneo de Davao to launch the New York-based Human Rights Watch report/book on the extrajudicial killings in Davao and other parts of Mindanao. This is part of the activities to commemorate 10 years of campaign against summary execution.
The event opened with a prayer, followed by the opening remarks of Atty. Manny Quibod (dean of Ateneo College of Law and CASE spokesperson). After him, Atty. Carlos Zarate gave a presentation on the highlights of the 10-year campaign against summary killings. Then the book was launched - with a showing a video presentation about the book, the reading of the statement from the HRW and the presentation of the book to representatives from various sectors: City Council, Academe, Religious, families of victims, and CASE.
There were 3 "discussants" who shared their thoughts and reflection on the book. One represented Atty. Angging Librado of the City Council, one from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and for the families of victims - Clarita Alia who lost 4 sons to the DDS.
I then gave the closing remarks and Archbishop Capalla led the closing prayer - the Oratio Imperata.
Below is the text of my closing remarks:
Closing Remarks:10th anniversary of campaign against summary execution
and launching of the Human Rights Watch Report
Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR

We marked today the 10th anniversary of the campaign against summary execution by launching the Human Rights Watch Report on the DDS entitled: “You can die anytime.”

After 10 years what has been achieved?

First the bad news. We note that number the victims has reached over 900. It would appear that we were not really successful in putting a stop to the killings over the years.
The question is, why has the number of victims reached over 900?
Fr. Bert’s poem gives us an insight of the mind of those who order and carry out the killings: “sanayan lang ang pagpatay.” They get used to killing. They are no longer bothered by their conscience.

I may also add, “sanayan lang ang makabalita o makarinig o makakita ng mga pagpatay.” People get use to hearing or seeing the killings. They are no longer disturbed by it, others even approve of it. Many prefer to remain silent. Thus, the culture of “impunity” as CHR chair De Lima calls it.

In spite of the deafening silence and seeming approval by many , the voices those who continue to condemn and oppose these killings still resounded. Among them
the CASE (Coalition Against Summary Killings)
the archdiocese under the leadership of Archbishop Capalla who wrote
the pastoral letter “Thou shalt not kill” several years ago, and ordered the Oratio Imperata to be read in all the churches since the beginning of Lent.
the priests and pastors who condemned the killing in their homilies,
the lay faithful who put up the streamers that appeared in all the churches.

Like voices crying out in the wilderness, we continued to function as conscience of society – promoting the value of life amidst the culture of death.
Our efforts and prayers have not been in vain.

The good news is that since the investigation of the Commission of Human Rights started and the Human Rights Watch report was first released 3 months ago, the number of killings attributed to the DDS has subsided. (have they relocated?). We heard from insiders that the DDS have received an order from the top to stop the killings for the meantime

A few nights ago, “Ramon” a former member of the DDS, one those interviewed by the Human Rights Watch and also one of the witnesses who met the Commission of Human Rights finally affixed his thumb mark on the sworn statement the revealed all he knew about the DDS.
What impressed me about Ramon is that he was no longer afraid to tell the truth. He has broken the culture of silence. He has become aware of his conscience.

What we hoped for and prayed for have partially come true.

Yet , just because the killings appeared to have stopped, we should not be complacent.
We have to continue the campaign that the truth will fully be revealed, and the perpetrators be held accountable for these serial mass murder and justice may be served.
We need to work for a society that is truly compassionate -- that respects life, that seeks the lost, that promotes healing.

We hope that there will be more Ramons who will courageously stand up as witnesses and reveal the truth.
We hope there will be no more mothers like Clarita who grieve for their sons or daughters.
As we end this event marking the 10th anniversary of the campaign against summary execution and launching the HRW report, we express our gratitude to the sponsors, the guests, the discussants and all of you who are here.

No comments: