Resolution on the Abduction and Disappearance of UP Students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan
Approved by the UP Diliman University Council
July 12, 2006
The University Council expresses great concern that government authorities have not yet produced indications of the whereabouts of two UP Diliman undergraduate students, Ms. Karen Empeno of the Sociology Department of the College of Social Science and Philosophy and Ms. Sherlyn Cadapan of the College of Human Kinetics.
It is now ten days since President Emerlinda Roman wrote a letter to Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno and to the Department of National Defense Secretary Avelino J. Cruz requesting their assistance in locating the two students. In the letter, President Roman described the circumstances attending the abduction of the two students: “According to raw reports reaching my office, six or more masked armed men forcibly took them at about 2:00 in the morning of Monday, June 26, 2006, in Purok 6, Barangay San Miguel, Hagonoy, Bulacan. The masked armed men were using long guns and apparently did not show any court order for their physical detention. We were also informed that Karen was asked to remove her shirt. They used this shirt to blindfold her. Sherlyn is pregnant. The women were then forced into a vehicle that proceeded in the direction of Iba, Hagonoy.”
We would like to emphasize that whatever the motives and circumstances behind it and whether it is carried out by private persons or by persons connected with government, abduction is always illegal and punishable by law, aside from being a violation of the victim’s human rights.
We are greatly concerned that they may be victims of the wave of extra-judicial executions and forced disappearances associated with the elements of the security and defense establishments. Indeed, we fear for their lives.
We would therefore wish to support and reiterate President Roman’s request to Secretary Puno and other government authorities that they immediately furnish us with information of the whereabouts of Ms. Empeno and Ms. Cadapan, provide them with medical and legal assistance, and release them to the care of the University as soon as possible. We consider the continuing silence of the authorities in this matter of life and death to be inexcusable and a betrayal of the public trust.
In conclusion, we would like to repeat President Roman’s words to Secretary Puno: “We know that you share with us a commitment to the spirit of the UN General Assembly’s ‘Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance’ (Resolution 47/133 of December 18, 1992). We also know that the acts done by masked armed men are criminally punishable under our laws. Most of all, as parents committed to teaching the virtues of valuing human dignity, we are certain that you could address the matter with empathy.”