From the Philippine Daily Inquirer:
Human bone in Bataan camp
by Nikko Dizon
LIMAY, BATAAN—Braving rains, a fact-finding team Tuesday dug up a yellow rubber slipper, a laced shirt and burned fragments of what they suspected was a human bone in an area where a former detainee said he saw people being tortured by soldiers. [more]
I don't even know what to say. So I'll quote UP Professor Roland Simbulan, from an interview I did in Summer 2007:
“There were human rights abuses before. Illegal arrests, torture, detention. But what is different now under Arroyo is the extent of killings of political activists. In fact, there’s an ugly joke going around that they don’t anymore have to feed them. Because during the Marcos time, and Ramos and other administrations, they would arrest an activist, or torture him at the most. But at least they were alive, they kept them in detention later to be released. But now, they’re not arresting them anymore. They just kill them. There’s not even a formal charge against them. They just abduct them, and perhaps they would try to extract as much information from them, and then they kill them. Some of their bodies or corpses are not even found. So that’s the difference, the gravity or the volume of people who are being killed. It’s very alarming."
It's not completely impossible this is some sort of elaborate hoax. Not completely.
And I'd very much like to think so, and that Karen Empeño and Manuel Merino are still safe and alive somewhere in the mountains.
But it doesn't seem likely. By the most ridiculously conservative numbers, there have been at least 200 extrajudicial executions since Arroyo came to power. By the greatest estimate, over 1000. And I personally know multiple people who have been kidnapped by paramilitaries, taken to camps in isolated areas and subjected to brutal torture.
So there's no real doubt in my mind that Manalo is telling the truth. I just hope that this time, this one time, some of the blood sticks on somebody's hands.