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The Philippines - State of Denial -

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(generated from captions) to Foreign Correspondent. Hello and welcome I'm Karen Percy in the Philippines. and optimism in this country Two decades ago, there was great hope of Ferdinand Marcos came to an end. when the military dictatorship democracy has taken hold Since then, there are greater freedoms here. and in the main

under President Gloria Arroyo, But in recent years, a return to those dark Marcos days, some Filipinos believe there's been

is waging a secret war. but they say this time the government JEEP RATTLES in a small town north of Manila. It's 2:00 in the morning into the home of a local farmer, A group of men force their way are also staying. where two university students the sworn statement This reenactment is based on of 14-year-old Wilfred Ramos. (Cries)

with a baby on the way. Sherlyn Cadapan was 29 years old She was an accomplished athlete the University of the Philippines. and a former phys. ed. student from she was with Karen Empeno, On that night, from the university. a sociology student into the plight of peasant farmers They were conducting research could complete her thesis. so that 22-year-old Karen of her childhood This is Karen's compilation

up to her 18th birthday. she excelled in all subject areas, I'm really proud of her because there is a medal. so, every subject area Concepcion Empeno's five children - Karen Empeno is the third of by all accounts, a clever girl, to her friends and family. loving and dedicated and Karen with mumma. And this is her pappa in the province of Zambales From their modest home to the north-west of Manila, struggled to come to terms Concepcion and Oscar Empeno have to their daughter. with what's happened Almost a year ago, to a visit from Karen. Mrs Empeno was looking forward and my birthday is July 23rd. Her birthday is July 22 to come home And she was not able because June 26th was her abduction. with...with the family. She was supposed to be BELL DINGS OF THE PHILIPPINES PLAYS THE NATIONAL ANTHEM BELL CHIMES about her daughter's disappearance, On the day she found out at the local primary school, Mrs Empeno was where she is principal NATIONAL ANTHEM CONTINUES (Speaks Filipino) It was just an ordinary day,

from one of Karen's friends. until she got a text message I want to see her...(Sobs)... I wanted Karen to be with us, she would be alive. ..because probably alive, not dead. I want to see her I miss Karen. very, very much. The family miss her caught up in an undeclared war The families say the women have been on the wrong side of politics. against those of farmers organisations, Since 2001, hundreds of members and leftist activists trade unionists, or have disappeared. have been killed the military took their daughters The Empenos and the Cadapans believe to prove it. and they say there's evidence the women were abducted - On 27 June - the night after held captive at a military base. Oscar Leuterio says he was being with several soldiers. He says he saw the women

Oscar Leuterio says were brought here Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno in the neighbouring province. to the Fort Magsaysay military camp in a house on the base Mr Leuterio says he was held Accused of being a communist rebel,

with at least eight others. in charge of Fort Magsaysay This is the man who was and Sherlyn Cadapan at the time Karen Empeno are said to have been there - Major General Jovito Palparan. at Fort Magsaysay JOURNALIST: Were they ever as has been alleged? where you were commanding, I don't think so.

Why don't you know? You don't think so? no information about that. There's none, there's GUNFIRE ECHOES given access to Fort Magsaysay, Foreign Correspondent was their first taste of life where new recruits get of the Philippines - the AFP. with the armed forces Like any military trainees, the young men are taught of discipline and team work. the importance in other parts of the world But while recruits in history books or foreign lands, look for their enemies the enemy is here and now in the Philippines, of its 90 million citizens. among some

across the country, In the barangays, or villages, in a prolonged campaign the military is engaged and their armed wing - against the communists or the NPA. the New People's Army, the one waging the armed struggle, The New People's Army, which is do two things - the other one is propaganda. first one is agitation - So, agitation and propaganda. of about 5,000 in a barangay? How do they terrorise a populace in the basketball court They get one, kill that in front of so many people already terrorised. and the entire barangay is of American sovereignty, NEWSREEL: After 48 years assume the status the people of the Philippines of an independent nation. the Philippine government on and off Communist rebels have been fighting ever since independence. of Ferdinand Marcos in the mid-'80s, Several years after the fall was finally legalised the Communist Party

the legitimate political process. and absorbed into But the New People's Army has continued the guerilla war and is classed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union. They would like to change our democratic system

into a socialist oriented form of government. The armed forces of the Philippines says that many legal left-wing organisations, including the League of Filipino Students - to which Karen Empeno belonged - are recruitment agencies for the guerrillas. Basically, their strategy is to pursue the concept of converting our democratic system

into Maoist, Leninist and Mao Zedong thought. DOG BARKS While communism has all but disappeared in most parts of the world, it is alive and well in the Philippines partly because of the millions of desperately poor people here.

Successive governments have promised to redistribute land to the poor, but have failed to deliver. Peasant farmers are routinely intimidated by rich land owners who pay off the politicians. Since the current government came to power,

hundreds of people working to mobilise the poor have been murdered or suddenly disappear. The deaths and disappearances have brought the families and friends of the victims together, seeking solace and justice. Mrs Empeno meets regularly with Erlina Cadapan, Sherlyn's mother. The victims' campaign has gained momentum since the release of a United Nations's investigation implicating members of the military in the extra-judicial killings. The report also criticises the government of President Gloria Arroyo for failing to act.

(Sings) # How can we cry out for justice... #

(Both sob) The international attention only provides so much comfort

for the Empeno and Cadapan families. They blame Major General Jovito Palparan. He's been dubbed 'The Butcher' because of the high incidence of unexplained killings in the last three of his command posts. He denies all knowledge of Karen and Sherlyn, but he says there was military intelligence about two female NPA guerillas operating in the area at the time. They're the ones taxing people, they're the ones intimidating people, and they have firearms, and the people are saying they are the ones who are involved in the killings of a number of people in that area. And you think that could have been Karen Empeno or Sherlyn Cadapan? Perhaps, perhaps they are the ones they are looking for.

The military spends a lot of its time and resources looking for the communists and trying to root out the New People's Army from rural areas. What have we here? This is Lady Amazon -

we'll call it the NPA, who was killed by her own comrades. She was a former student of Central Luzon State University. Lt Colonel Joey Kakilala is leading the fight against the NPA in Central Luzon province. The armed forces of the Philippines says it's being blamed for killings that are part of an internal purge by the communists. Our conscience is clear There is no such thing as extra-judicial killings in so far as military operations is concerned. It is only done by the communist terrorists. Across the country, the military is trying to win the 'hearts and minds' of the people. Colonel Kakilala says the program is working in this village, which was once home to more than 1,000 supporters of the NPA. Going to school? Spell cat. C-A-T. Good boy.

Colonel Kakilala was under the command of General Palparan

until the general's retirement last year. Have you ever been involved in extra-judicial killings or any of these abductions or disappearances of leftist activist?? Did you ever... Did you ever order your subordinates to engage in extra-judicial killings? Or disappearances or abductions? And, then, this extraordinary admission

that he could have inspired civilians to kill. He was not able to control his men in some areas in the country where they were assigned. And I would say in one of his testimonies, he said that

"I did not really order my men to kill - I only inspired them." (Laughs) Jovencito Zuno is the top prosecutor in the Philippines. He served with the Melo Commission - a government inquiry into the extra-judicial killings. The superior officer cannot escape responsibility or liability for any acts committed by his men within his supervision. The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the Philippines. Surely she has to take some responsibility. When these extra-judicial killings reached that alarming point, she created the task force that would investigate these extra-judicial killings and this Melo Commission. ANNOUNCER: Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the President of the Republic of the Philippines. While the President has finally taken steps to investigate the deaths that have escalated since she's been in power...

In the harshest possible terms, I condemn political killings. ..she has also twice promoted the man militant groups call 'The Butcher', and publicly praised him.

Do you think the Communist Party should be illegal? Yes, because they are doing a lot of illegal things. They're actually destroying communities, families, people, individuals, organisations, institutions. They have to be out. They have to disappear. But do you accept that there is a difference between the people who are waging the armed battle and those who are unarmed, who may just be students who are trying to advise farmers of their rights,

they're trade unionists, trying to advise workers of their rights? There is a difference somehow in the approach, but, eventually, it's the same because they are talking to people,

assisting them for the purpose of inviting them to revolution. The constant threat of a military coup means Mrs Arroyo can't take too strong a line against her military leaders. And just last year the President declared

an all-out war against the communists, saying the insurgency had to be crushed within two years.

I hate the military as I hate the government, because they are not really giving us security. They are a threat.

That was the last time we were together. The Empeno family is doing its best to continue their lives, but where once music filled their home, there is now a heaviness and a sadness here. Karen's parents refuse to believe what a government minister told them - that their daughter was a senior cadre with the New People's Army. During our visit, Oscar Empeno revealed his own past as a member of the underground resistance movement fighting the Marcos regime. Karen Empeno was heavily influenced by her father's radical background. About what?

The Empenos have held meetings with politicians and written letters to public officials, including the President.

They're pursuing a court case against the military. Still they don't know where their daughter is or if anyone with any authority is trying to find out what happened to her, but they hope and pray that they'll see her again. What would you like to say to her?