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Karen Empeño

posted Aug 4, 2011, 2:00 PM by Diego S. Maranan   [ updated Aug 7, 2011, 5:14 PM ]

Last July 22, 2011 was Karen Empeno’s 28th birthday. For five consecutive years following her abduction, Empeno’s relatives and friends have observed her birthday by calling on the military to surface her, along with her other abducted companions, Sherlyn Cadapan and farmer Manuel Merino. The three were taken in Hagonoy, Bulacan on June 26, 2006 by elements of the 7th Infantry Division that was then under the command of now retired Maj. Gen. Jovito “The Butcher” Palparan.

Karen is the third in a family of five children. Her friends describe her as being playful, caring to her siblings, intelligent and a dedicated community organizer. Karen helped organize Anak ng Bayan (Children of the Nation), a progressive youth group in Payatas which is an urban poor community in Quezon City.

 At the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Karen studied sociology. For her thesis, she went to Bulacan to study the peasant community. It was here where Karen was abducted.

Raymond Manalo who was also in the custody of the military but who later escaped gave a harrowing eye witness testimony about the horrendous torture and rape of Karen and Sherlyn at the hands of their captors.

In June, the Supreme Court ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to surface Karen Empeno, Sherlyn Cadapan and Manuel Merino. Named respondents and accountable for their disappearance were Palparan, Lt. Col. Rogelio Boac (commanding officer of the 56th Infantry Battalion), Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado (commanding officer of the 25th Infantry Battalion), 2Lt. Francis Mirabelle Samson, Arnel Enriquez and Donald Caigas (former officers of 7th Infantry Division and the 24th Infantry Battalion).