Appeal for support for the disappeared in the Philippines

Dear friends in the international community,

     Warmest greetings of peace that springs from the wells of

     This year, the Families of Victims of Involuntary
Disappearance (FIND) will be in its 14th year of existence. 
While we count our blessings in search for the disappeared and in
our work for justice for the victims, we have also realistically
assessed that after almost a decade and a half, we were never
able to resolve any case of a disappearance.  Out of the 1,640
cases of involuntary disappearances, not one case is resolved. 
The problem of impunity is an ever-existing reality. No
perpetrator has been punished.  Redress and compensation had
never been provided for to the concerned families of the

     A number of administrations had succeeded the tyrannical and
rapacious Marcos regime.  Yet, each administration, just like its
predecessor, failed to bring about the very elusive justice which
is a pre-requisite to a just and lasting peace.  Many other forms
of problems emerged.  While violations of economic and social
rights is the order of the day, the violations of civil and
political rights, such as involuntary disappearances are
unresolved and continue to happen.  

     A worst thing that could happen to a nation is to forget its
history.  An integral part of its history is the reality of the
phenomenon of disappearances in the country.  There can be no
real peace without justice.  And justice is based not in
forgetting the past but in remembering the truth of injustice
committed to the people.

     Our struggle for justice has been rather uphill.  For the
last fourteen years, FIND, notwithstanding its victories in some
respects, unfortunately has not yet seen a concrete case where
the truth had been feretted out, perpetrators had been given due
punishment and families had been given due compensation, redress
and reparation.

     Thus, this year, FIND is all out supporting one family of a
disappeared in Western Mindanao in filing a case against the
perpetrators of the murder and disappearance of their loved one. 
It is a case of the disappearance of Jose Sumapad, a farmer who
was murdered and made to disappear by members of a para-military
group.  His remains were exhumed after several years.  Results of
the forensic investigation positively identified the remains.  
(See case profile)

     The case was filed on January 15, 1999.  After more than
half a year, the local court in Pagadian has failed to call for
the first hearing.  Due to the harassment being faced by Emiliano
Sumapad,  brother of the victim, he left his farm, sold his
carabao and moved from one area to another in an attempt to
secure his life.  Despite series of harassments, still, the
complainant is determined to pursue the case.

     FIND believes that the success of this test case would be
symbolic of the relentless struggle of the families of the
disappeared.  If successful, it would be a collective victory of
the families of the disappeared in the country.  It will
encourage families to file more cases and thus, prevent the
occurence of future cases.  This is going to be a big step in
this long road to the truth, justice, peace and freedom.      

     May we, therefore, appeal to you to make the necessary
efforts to support the concerned family and our organization in
our pursuance of this case.  Concretely, we ask you to make any
of the the following urgent actions

1.   That you write letters
appealing that court proceedings be expedited.  Please address
your letters to the following

His Excellency President Joseph Ejercito Estrada
Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace, Manila
Fax Number(63-2) 8323793 (via DFA)
Fax Number(63-2) 7311325 (via Press Secretary)

Justice Alfredo Benapayo
Office of the Court Administrator
Supreme Court
Padre Faura corner Taft Ave.

Honorable Serafin R. Cuevas
Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Ermita Manila

Judge Ernesto Laurel
City Court
Pagadian City,

2.  That you write a letter of support to the complainant, Mr.
and Mrs. Emiliano Sumapad, c/o FIND, 18 Marunong St., Barangay
Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, Tel. No. 4-35-00-68.
Kindly write also a support letter to our lawyer in Mindanao,
Atty. Faustino Lingating.  Please also use the address of FIND.

3.  That you send financial support for the daily survival of the
family concerned.  Please send it through the bank account number
of FIND as follows

Holder  Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance
Bank    Far East Bank and Trust Company, West Triangle Branch
Address Quezon Ave. corner Examiner St., Quezon City,
CurrencyUS Dollars       

     Whatever other possible forms of support you may be able to
extend to our concrete campaign for justice will be very much
appreciated.  Your solidarity will go a long way towards the
attainment of the long-cherished dream for justice, peace and

     Thank you very much.  More power to you!

August 1999

FIND | Project Disappeared Philippines