Families of desaparecidos call for justice on All Souls' Day

”We have nowhere to offer candles and flowers, so we do it here for the world to see, and let the people know that we continue to search for them, and we will not stop at seeking justice,” she said.

Sherlyn and another UP student, Karen Empeño, went missing on June 26, 2006, in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

In September 2018, retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan was found guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention in relation to the students' disappearance. He was sentenced to up to 40 years in prison. 

The families also called for measures to aid their pursuit for justice, including the full implementation of Republic Act 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012. (READ: It's a first in Asia: 'Desaparecidos' law)

The law seeks to penalize with reclusion perpetua – 20 to 40 years in prison, eligible for pardon after 30 years – those found to have committed the crime and provides support to victims and their families through reparation.

Groups, however, criticitized the lack of proper implementation of the law once hailed as the first of its kind in Asia. (READ: Poor law implementation denies desaparecidos justice– Rappler.com 

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.