Daughter writes a letter to missing father on the 6th year of disappearance

Dear Tatay,

I am writing you again a letter that I am not sure if you will be able to read.

I guess I am still writing you, even after six years of your disappearance, for my own comfort. I’d like to think that maybe somehow my message will reach you. I would like to imagine that while reading my letter, you’ll smile and maybe, just maybe, you’ll answer this.

Because I want to tell you that you have a very handsome and healthy grandson. His name is Ron Eliseo. I named him after Nanay, Elizabeth and of course, you, Leo. ELISEO. Do you like his name? Then you’ll probably smile and say, “best name.”

Eliseo just turned one year old this month. You don’t know how much I want you to meet him. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with him, too, like so many of his Titos and Titas do. I hope that he grows up to be as smart, compassionate, humble and as happy as his Lolo Leo.

Yet, it pains me that he does not have the chance to meet you. He could have learned so much from you, like I did.

Six years, Tay. Six long years. I have not stopped fighting for justice since then. Together with other families of the desaparecidos, we continue this struggle even if it takes 10, 20, or more years.

I would like to tell you that finally a law criminalizing the act of enforced disappearance was just enacted. Our group, Families of Desaparecidos for Justice, was a part of the committee that wrote its Implementing Rules and Regulations. Families of victims of enforced disappearances can now file a case in court under this act. And because this is considered as continuing crime, those who were disappeared before the enactment of this law who are still missing can still file a case in court.

I can now work for the prosecution of your abductors, Tatay. I can make all of them rot in jail. But how? I don’t know who they are. Witnesses to your abduction are too afraid to be involved. All I know is that you were abducted by the Arroyo government and that this current government is still hiding you.

I do not want keep my hopes high that this law will bring you back home. I know, from what you had taught me, it takes more than an enactment of a law to bring about justice.

I spend this day with pain and sadness because six years ago, the State took you away from us, and we had to live our lives without your hugs, your voice and most of all without you.

I realize, now that I am a parent too, that this society is too violent for Eliseo to grow up in. I cannot bear the idea of him suffering because of the illnesses of this society, yet I know I will not be there to protect him at all times. Like you, I would have to trust that he will learn to have strength and courage to face hardships. And like you and Nanay, we continue to be part of a movement for a real and meaningful change for our children’s and grandchildren’s future. Now I understand the choices you took earlier in life and why you stayed with held on to those principles.

Take care, Tatay.

There is not a day that I didn’t miss you.

Love and kisses,
Aya and Eliseo

( “Tatay” is Leo Velasco, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) who was abducted in Cagayan de Oro City on February 19, 2007, under the Arroyo government. Today, he remains missing, almost three years after Noynoy Aquino assumed presidency. Velasco is among the 11 NDF consultants and staff who were abducted and forcibly disappeared, despite being protected under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees or JASIG signed between the GPH and the NDFP in 1995).

This is a news release sent to me by a human rights organization.

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