Press Release
July 12, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today dared the Arroyo government to take stronger steps to go after perpetrators of abductions and killings of political activists and to disprove the allegation that these atrocities are being carried out by military and police elements with the knowledge and consent of civilian authorities.

Pimentel bewailed that law enforcement authorities are apparently doing nothing to solve the abduction of University of the Philippines (Diliman) students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan and their companion Manuel Marino, a member of the Alyansang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Empeno, 23, Cadapan, 29 and Marino were snatched away from their rented house in Hagonoy, Bulacan at 2 a.m. June 26.

They were seized by armed men wearing bonnets, whom their neighbors and relatives claimed, were Army soldiers.

State-sponsored killings and abductions will not cease unless President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shapes up and orders the hit squads masquerading as law enforcers to cease and desist from their illegal and deadly missions, Pimentel said.

The minority leader said while members of the military, paramilitary groups and policemen were pinpointed as culprits behind many of the abductions, disappearances and killings of leftist militants, the government was quick to pass the blame on communist insurgents and other groups without hard evidence in an obvious bid to evade responsibility.

The buck must stop at Mrs. Arroyos door because she is the president and commander-in-chief and presumably unless she orders the police and the military to crack down on those responsible, these extra-judicial killings and abductions will continue, he said.

Distraught relatives and friends of missing two UP students have sought the assistance of the Senate in looking for them and in identifying their abductors.

A member of the League of Filipino Students, Empeno, a senior sociology students at the UP College of Sciences, was abducted while she was doing a research on the plight of farmers in Bulacan for her thesis.

On the other hand, Cadapan, married and a senior student of the UP College of Human Kinetics, was a community organizer for Anakbayan and volunteer researcher for farmer in Central Luzon.

Pimentel agreed with the statement of the parents of the two missing UP students that if they had committed any unlawful act, they should be investigated and formally charged by the authorities instead of being abducted and illegal detained.

How many more Empenos, Cadapans and Marinos still have to be sacrificed on the alter of criminal abductions and murders depends on the decisiveness of the President, the senator from Mindanao said.

From the looks of it, she is incapable of asserting herself because she is very likely a captive of the officials of the AFP and the PNP who have helped her steal the 2004 election, and to perpetuate her illegal hold on the presidency.

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