Dear friends,

We wish to share with you the following statement from Florence Manegdeg, widow of human rights activist Jose "Pepe" Manegdeg. Jose was shot dead in November 28, 2005 in San Esteban, Ilocos Sur.

Asian Human Rights Commission

Hong Kong


November 27, 2014

A Statement from Florence Manegdeg, widow of human rights activist Jose "Pepe" Manegdeg. Jose was shot dead in November 28, 2005 in San Esteban, Ilocos Sur forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PHILIPPINES: In Memoriam: Contemplating Truth, Justice and Healing

Jose Pepe Manegdeg III died nine years ago at the age of 37. A case of extra-judicial killing in November 28, 2005 in San Esteban, Ilocos Sur, Northern Luzon, Philippines. He was a member of the Rural Missionary of the Philippines. Our thirst for truth, justice and healing remains wanting.

We were deeply hurt by the tragic death of a gentle father, brother, son, friend, husband and colleague. We were together in dreaming for a more equitable and peaceful society. The incomprehensible violence certainly affected our lives in untold ways. We have mourned and grieved our losses. We explored the causes and context of the tragedy. We endured doubts as well as ridicule. We have come to accept our vulnerabilities and constraints as we realize the truth. And, we choose to live in a journey of peace and healing.

This journey has brought us to contemplate the junctions of justice, healing and peace building in our deeply wounded land. What do we perceive as justice that creates healing? How are we contributing towards the resolution of the case and the underlying conflicts that breed violence? How are we moving forward in weaving tapestries that bring about a just and peaceful world?

We recall that police investigations identified an army captain as the assassin. Local, national and international campaigns for justice for the hundreds of victims of extra-judicial killings during the nine-year rule of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2001-2010) were done. Our attempts to seek redress through the present criminal justice system has not been encouraging. It has also put even family members at risk. The lone witness to the incident eventually retracted his statements after months of hiding and the local prosecutor quickly declared him not a credible witness then dismissed the case for lack of evidence. Subsequently, a special police body tasked to investigate the extra-judicial killings considered the case 'closed' because the suspect has been 'exonerated' by the court. And the case remains 'cold and unresolved'.

In the attempts to unravel the truth amidst calls to stop the killings, varying views were offered. The Armed Forces of the Philippines denied the existence of the identified army captain, and came up with a statement blaming the death of Pepe upon his colleagues as a case of internal conflict. Other reports accused Pepe as a member of an armed rebel group. Alas, such statement and reports which only served to defend the cold-blooded murder and evade accountability are simply untrue. The Commission on Human Rights affirmed the arbitrary deprivation of life but could not proceed further to rule on the guilt of the accused. Field investigation agents balked at pursuing the case that implicated military forces for consideration of their own personal safety. Some of his colleagues admitted negligence of security measures having known that he was already being targeted, for it was truly unfathomable that civilians and social activists that they are, were being pursued with weapons of death.

The truth remains sealed in the labyrinth of secrets and myths.

We recognize that there is much to be desired in our present social structures and justice system as well as in existing frameworks in the search for sustainable and just peace. We need a system that facilitates truth telling and considers sincere acts to rectify the wrongs as obligations towards the restoration of human dignity.

We continually affirm and participate in social processes that restore wholeness and uphold the integrity of life.

We share our personal and social experiences of violence and efforts to transcend a tragic past, in the hope of arriving at a deeper understanding and meaning of compassion, loving kindness and forgiveness in our human community.

We are committed to harness our individual and collective efforts to bring forth healing, transformation and growth in ourselves and the wider society, as we remember Pepe in eternity.

Family and friends of Jose Pepe Manegdeg III. November 2014.

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About AHRC:The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Read this Forwarded Statement online

Read this Forwarded Statement online