ml-museum


Baptism of Fire
Volume 23 Number 1
Thursday, 12 January 2012 10:43

by Rapha-el Q. Olegario

 

My internship at the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has been the most challenging moment in my college life. Before I start my story, I would like to give a brief introduction of TFDP.
It was established during the Marcos regime by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) to assist political detainees and political prisoners with their personal and legal needs. To respond to the needs at that time, its mandate expanded from taking care of political detainees and political prisoners to handling civil-political rights issues such as torture, involuntary/enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. Further expansion led for its mandate to cover economic, social and cultural issues.
My internship at the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has been the most challenging moment in my college life. Before I start my story, I would like to give a brief introduction of TFDP.
It was established during the Marcos regime by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) to assist political detainees and political prisoners with their personal and legal needs. To respond to the needs at that time, its mandate expanded from taking care of political detainees and political prisoners to handling civil-political rights issues such as torture, involuntary/enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. Further expansion led for its mandate to cover economic, social and cultural issues.

 

My experience is more like a baptism of fire. Immediately after I was accepted as an intern in TFDP, the program where I was assigned, the Human Rights Defenders Program (HRDP), together with volunteers from Youth for Rights (Y4R), scheduled an immersion in Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Quezon provinces.
The tasks at hand were to get to know the communities in the areas, experience their way of life and document human rights violations. The communities in the provinces mentioned are affected by the mining activities of a large-scale mining firm, Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI). It is an Australian firm which was granted license to operate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Under the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR, OGPI signed a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) wherein it would assist communities that would be directly affected by their operations.
The challenge during the immersion came in different forms. First off, the heavy rains during that time resulted to roads being blocked by landslides and mud. Second, we had to traverse the mountains for hours and even a day just to reach a particular community. Honestly, I was not that physically prepared and fit for the hike because of my heavy built and absence of any pre-climb training. Next challenge was the language barrier. The indigenous people did not speak Filipino but rather their native language. Though we have partners from the communities who served as local contacts, guides and interpreters, it was not enough to totally understand the people and their plight. Connected to that problem were the cultural differences. The highlanders consider lowlanders, particularly Manileños, as boisterous and arrogant. Establishing rapport was difficult because of the existing biases against us. We were able to surpass that by being courteous, helping in household chores and conducting interviews and some educational discussions about human rights.
For five days, we were able to collate evidences of violations of their civil, economic, cultural, social and political rights committed by the large-scale mining firm. Though physically battered, we were given high hopes by the community’s strong conviction to resist the abuses of the mining firm and their willingness to cooperate with TFDP to campaign their issue up to the national level.
My stay in TFDP also made me realize that non-government organizations (NGOs) sometimes have to move out of their mandate when the need arises. This call came during and after the onslaught of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. The two typhoons mentioned brought death and destruction in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. Ondoy’s uniqueness is characterized by a very hard downpour of rainfall never experienced, according to PAG-ASA, in 40 years. I, for one, experienced it the hard way for I was forced to brave the not just neck-deep level of water but the seemingly river-like raging flood just for me to get home.
TFDP has partner communities in Metro Manila, one of which is Barangay Bagong Silang in Quezon City. The community’s location is below sea level and is beside Marikina River. It took a very hard blow from the typhoon and it experienced flooding so high and powerful it almost touched the roofs of two- storey buildings. It destroyed households and took numerous lives.
TFDP with the help of the AMRSP coordinated the repacking of relief goods and relief operations.
One of the challenges was where to get the volunteers to repack and distribute relief goods. The responsibility of taking care of the needed goods was handled by the AMRSP. The solution for the problem of human resource, on the other hand, came from volunteers of the youth network Y4R.
The Y4R was created and organized by the HRDP of TFDP. Membership of the network came from different colleges and universities like De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), De La Salle University (DLSU), Adamson University (AdU), Far Eastern University (FEU), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP-D), among others. It also has members from youth organizations such as Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK) and Samahan ng mga Anak ng Desaparecidos (SAD).
The next challenge came during the distribution of relief goods to the ravaged communities.  The TFDP staff and volunteers had to brave emotional turmoil. TFDP’s contact in Brgy. Bagong Silang is the community organizer of SANLAKAS. According to the contact and as witnessed by TFDP and the Y4R volunteers, there were 38 casualties, 100 still unaccounted for and 3,000 families displaced. The dead and the displaced were all cramped-up in the community gym and public schools. It was the first time for most of the volunteers to join in relief operations and what they saw was too much for them to handle, not to mention the stress coming from integrating with a community devastated by flood. As for me, as an intern, I had to remain steadfast amidst massive despair so I can function well and contribute to the conduct of the activity.
After Brgy. Bagong Silangan, we also distributed relief goods in Potrero, Malabon and Baseco, Tondo.
One of the important elements I have learned when working is the value of patience and proper coordination with other offices.
There have been days when my work revolved around attending meetings, participating in activities and communicating with TFDP’s international partners.
One of TFDP’s primary concerns is the campaign for justice against the human rights violations committed by OGPI in Nueva Vizcaya. A major activity was when TFDP, along with other NGOs campaigning against mining such as Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) and the Philippine Misereor Partnership (PMPI-JPICC) met with Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Atty. De Lima. We discussed about the recent case in a town in Nueva Vizcaya wherein there was an attempted murder of a resident, the continuous illegal demolitions and the violent dispersal of the protesting residents. We presented our evidences such as raw footage of the mobilization dispersal, pictures, and sworn statements or affidavit of witnesses and victims.
To be able to help our campaign, it is also equally important to communicate to our partner institutions abroad about our issue. One of the effective ways to do that is through urgent appeals. An urgent appeal is a letter wherein we narrate the facts of a human rights violation case and we urge international partners to write letters pressuring the government to do its job, particularly, to investigate and give justice to the victims.
The problem that I faced was the inconsistency of the data sent to me. The contacts in the community provided a fact sheet that was different from the sworn statement of the witnesses and the victim. I had a hard time deciding and it worried me because we were about to present the data to the CHR and I must send an urgent appeal while the issue is fresh. When the immediate superior is out of town and the presentation is just hours away, I have to decide immediately what data to use. I concluded, with the help of our campaign coordinator and program coordinator, to use the affidavit for it is the data which shows authenticity as it was a sworn statement which should project the truth.
To sum up, I learned to be very keen on the details and be very patient in collecting the data necessary to successfully accomplish the task.
Another challenge I had to face is more of a personal struggle because it is my first time to represent the office to a formal engagement such as fora and other formal speaking engagements. I don’t have any formal training. I am only briefed to do this task and what is the office’s position.
Invitations from schools flooded in TFDP for the institution to present its advocacy to the students. In fact, we also had activities in my school, DLS-CSB. Other schools wherein we had speaking engagements were Universidad de Manila (UDM), formerly City College of Manila (CCM), Philippine Women’s University (PWU) and PUP. The HRDP Coordinator deemed it necessary for a youth to present its position to the audience. In the panel, I was the only one coming from that sector, which made it more important for me to do the task so the youth had someone to relate to.
Another activity organized by TFDP was the photo exhibit. TFDP created a compilation of pictures of human rights violations and political detainees to show that these problems exist and to motivate students to get involved in human rights advocacy. This is part of our information campaign and our strategy for students to sign the petition for President Arroyo to sign the Anti-Torture Bill. (The anti-torture bill was enacted into law on November 10, 2009. –Ed.)
We were also invited to speak at the Sto. Rosario Parish in Malabon. The audience was composed of parishioners from the area.  The activity was organized to enlighten them about the value of the right to suffrage and to entice the community, particularly the youth who are first time voters, to vote in the upcoming elections. Together with other organizations such as the “Boto Mo, Patrol Mo” network, we discussed the benefit of the automated polls and why we need to protect our votes from external entities who would do anything to manipulate the elections for their selfish interests.
I also conducted educational discussions (EDs) to different sectors of the society. One of my favorite moments was when I gave an ED  to the Indigenous People coming from the Quezon and Rizal provinces who were directly affected by the planned creation of the Laiban Dam. These people were also victims of aggressive development, like the people from the mining communities. They were enlightened of their right to self determination.  It turned out that they fully appreciated the discussion because they know that they are not alone in their struggle and there is an organization that would support them.
In the human rights community, our loved ones are the ones who gave up their lives for the principles that they are fighting for. They can be compared to our national heroes such us Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and the like. We call them martyrs and they deserve to be called as such for all they ever wanted was to break the cycle of oppression and the culture of impunity.
Probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I had with TFDP was the series of jail visits we did to commemorate the International Human Rights Week during the Christmas season. The TFDP, together with students from schools like DLS-CSB, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), organizations such as SANLAKAS, KPD-YND and SAD visited political prisoners and political detainees in different detention centers in Luzon.
What struck me most about this experience is the realization that political prisoners and detainees are very good and responsible citizens of our country. Though some chose to bear arms, most of them are innocent and all of them are fighting because of the existence of injustice. They are not thugs or bandits like some others believe, a lot of them are even innocent of crimes they are being charged with. Like our forefathers, they fought for justice and the advancement of human rights; but in return, the state branded them as terrorists and treated them as such, detained them and tortured them with impunity. Their stories are very inspiring, in the sense that despite all the persecution and humiliation, they remain steadfast in their beliefs and continue their struggle inside the penal facilities.
I fully appreciated the meetings because it was during these meetings that we planned the intricacies of the series of activities that we had to do before an actual event.  I also learned to be flexible if things did not go as planned. In organizing events, meetings happen not just once, but a lot of times and more often, in different places. This is to ensure that every individual and organization involved are updated about the preparations for an event. Though meetings are usually long and arduous, they are meant to concretize the flow of activities and ensure everything needed such as materials and human resource are in place and to come up with adjustments when problems arise.
December is probably the busiest month of the year for this is when we commemorate the International Human Rights Week.  During this time, I was part of TFDP’s organizing committee for the activities during the human rights week.  A big part of my task revolved around organizing and mobilizing all resources necessary for the big event.
The first event was the Anti-Mining Conference. The objective of the conference was to gather all human rights defenders who are against foreign large-scale mining in their regions and come up with a unified anti-mining campaign plan.  We also invited speakers from LRC, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and AKBAYAN Party-list.  They were Mr. Romel De Vera, Mr. Max De Mesa, and Ms Kit Melgar, respectively.
The second event was the Human Rights Defenders’ Forum. The objective of this event was to gather all human rights defenders from all parts of the country to come up with a plan on how to work together for human rights defense, and to create the foundation for a formal organization of human rights defenders.
We also organized the jail visits known as Paskuhan Sa Kampo. Participants from schools and the DLS-CSB Center for Social Action and Bukluran Student Alliance of PLM were able to conduct a Christmas party together with the political prisoners and detainees.
Lastly, to celebrate the International Human Rights Day on December 10, we conducted a program in Plaza Miranda together with other partner NGOs and marched towards Mendiola bridge for a bigger program to condemn the gruesome Maguindanao massacre.
I learned in TFDP that strong belief and motivation are not enough for an advocacy to be projected and championed. It needs collective action, intricate planning, strategizing and tacticizing for any cause to succeed. Adjustments along the way should be done, if need be.  Based on my experience in TFDP, this is how things work inside my program.
All in all, my experience in TFDP is the best thing that ever happened to me. It helped me mature not just as an individual but also in terms of my outlook of reality. It was also a great opportunity to experience first hand to be part of an advocacy that is close to my heart – Human Rights.
I believe that the reason why true progress is not achieved is because the government has failed to integrate itself with the masses. Opposition to its policies by the people is an indication that policies that are implemented are violations to our rights and is not for the best interest of the society. If only the government would integrate itself – look deeply into the root causes of poverty and resolving these causes, no lives will be lost, no families will be looking for their loved ones who have been involuntarily disappeared, and no one will be detained or imprisoned for fighting for what is right and just.
The TFDP office opened new doors in my life for the things that I went through were able to unravel some of the things I thought I would never experience. Everything I experienced in the institution I grew to love is the stuff I only read in books. I am lucky to experience everything first hand and I am very thankful that TFDP accepted me as an intern and was not selfish to allow me to have a taste of their way of life. I am willing to be a part of the TFDP family and the struggle to reach the pinnacle of success and the eradication of the oppression of the people.
Note:
Mr. Olegario, or Olegs, is from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB). He was an intern at the TFDP from September to December 2009.  After he finished his internship, he continued helping the organization as a volunteer.  He eventually signified his desire to work for the organization.  He went through the application process and passed.  Olegs is now TFDP’s Human Rights Education Program (HREP) staff in Luzon.
My experience is more like a baptism of fire. Immediately after I was accepted as an intern in TFDP, the program where I was assigned, the Human Rights Defenders Program (HRDP), together with volunteers from Youth for Rights (Y4R), scheduled an immersion in Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Quezon provinces.
The tasks at hand were to get to know the communities in the areas, experience their way of life and document human rights violations. The communities in the provinces mentioned are affected by the mining activities of a large-scale mining firm, Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI). It is an Australian firm which was granted license to operate by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Under the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of DENR, OGPI signed a Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) wherein it would assist communities that would be directly affected by their operations.
The challenge during the immersion came in different forms. First off, the heavy rains during that time resulted to roads being blocked by landslides and mud. Second, we had to traverse the mountains for hours and even a day just to reach a particular community. Honestly, I was not that physically prepared and fit for the hike because of my heavy built and absence of any pre-climb training. Next challenge was the language barrier. The indigenous people did not speak Filipino but rather their native language. Though we have partners from the communities who served as local contacts, guides and interpreters, it was not enough to totally understand the people and their plight. Connected to that problem were the cultural differences. The highlanders consider lowlanders, particularly Manileños, as boisterous and arrogant. Establishing rapport was difficult because of the existing biases against us. We were able to surpass that by being courteous, helping in household chores and conducting interviews and some educational discussions about human rights.
For five days, we were able to collate evidences of violations of their civil, economic, cultural, social and political rights committed by the large-scale mining firm. Though physically battered, we were given high hopes by the community’s strong conviction to resist the abuses of the mining firm and their willingness to cooperate with TFDP to campaign their issue up to the national level.
My stay in TFDP also made me realize that non-government organizations (NGOs) sometimes have to move out of their mandate when the need arises. This call came during and after the onslaught of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. The two typhoons mentioned brought death and destruction in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces. Ondoy’s uniqueness is characterized by a very hard downpour of rainfall never experienced, according to PAG-ASA, in 40 years. I, for one, experienced it the hard way for I was forced to brave the not just neck-deep level of water but the seemingly river-like raging flood just for me to get home.
TFDP has partner communities in Metro Manila, one of which is Barangay Bagong Silang in Quezon City. The community’s location is below sea level and is beside Marikina River. It took a very hard blow from the typhoon and it experienced flooding so high and powerful it almost touched the roofs of two- storey buildings. It destroyed households and took numerous lives.
TFDP with the help of the AMRSP coordinated the repacking of relief goods and relief operations.
One of the challenges was where to get the volunteers to repack and distribute relief goods. The responsibility of taking care of the needed goods was handled by the AMRSP. The solution for the problem of human resource, on the other hand, came from volunteers of the youth network Y4R.
The Y4R was created and organized by the HRDP of TFDP. Membership of the network came from different colleges and universities like De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB), De La Salle University (DLSU), Adamson University (AdU), Far Eastern University (FEU), Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP-D), among others. It also has members from youth organizations such as Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK) and Samahan ng mga Anak ng Desaparecidos (SAD).
The next challenge came during the distribution of relief goods to the ravaged communities.  The TFDP staff and volunteers had to brave emotional turmoil. TFDP’s contact in Brgy. Bagong Silang is the community organizer of SANLAKAS. According to the contact and as witnessed by TFDP and the Y4R volunteers, there were 38 casualties, 100 still unaccounted for and 3,000 families displaced. The dead and the displaced were all cramped-up in the community gym and public schools. It was the first time for most of the volunteers to join in relief operations and what they saw was too much for them to handle, not to mention the stress coming from integrating with a community devastated by flood. As for me, as an intern, I had to remain steadfast amidst massive despair so I can function well and contribute to the conduct of the activity.
After Brgy. Bagong Silangan, we also distributed relief goods in Potrero, Malabon and Baseco, Tondo.
One of the important elements I have learned when working is the value of patience and proper coordination with other offices.
There have been days when my work revolved around attending meetings, participating in activities and communicating with TFDP’s international partners.
One of TFDP’s primary concerns is the campaign for justice against the human rights violations committed by OGPI in Nueva Vizcaya. A major activity was when TFDP, along with other NGOs campaigning against mining such as Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) and Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) and the Philippine Misereor Partnership (PMPI-JPICC) met with Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Atty. De Lima. We discussed about the recent case in a town in Nueva Vizcaya wherein there was an attempted murder of a resident, the continuous illegal demolitions and the violent dispersal of the protesting residents. We presented our evidences such as raw footage of the mobilization dispersal, pictures, and sworn statements or affidavit of witnesses and victims.
To be able to help our campaign, it is also equally important to communicate to our partner institutions abroad about our issue. One of the effective ways to do that is through urgent appeals. An urgent appeal is a letter wherein we narrate the facts of a human rights violation case and we urge international partners to write letters pressuring the government to do its job, particularly, to investigate and give justice to the victims.
The problem that I faced was the inconsistency of the data sent to me. The contacts in the community provided a fact sheet that was different from the sworn statement of the witnesses and the victim. I had a hard time deciding and it worried me because we were about to present the data to the CHR and I must send an urgent appeal while the issue is fresh. When the immediate superior is out of town and the presentation is just hours away, I have to decide immediately what data to use. I concluded, with the help of our campaign coordinator and program coordinator, to use the affidavit for it is the data which shows authenticity as it was a sworn statement which should project the truth.
To sum up, I learned to be very keen on the details and be very patient in collecting the data necessary to successfully accomplish the task.
Another challenge I had to face is more of a personal struggle because it is my first time to represent the office to a formal engagement such as fora and other formal speaking engagements. I don’t have any formal training. I am only briefed to do this task and what is the office’s position.
Invitations from schools flooded in TFDP for the institution to present its advocacy to the students. In fact, we also had activities in my school, DLS-CSB. Other schools wherein we had speaking engagements were Universidad de Manila (UDM), formerly City College of Manila (CCM), Philippine Women’s University (PWU) and PUP. The HRDP Coordinator deemed it necessary for a youth to present its position to the audience. In the panel, I was the only one coming from that sector, which made it more important for me to do the task so the youth had someone to relate to.
Another activity organized by TFDP was the photo exhibit. TFDP created a compilation of pictures of human rights violations and political detainees to show that these problems exist and to motivate students to get involved in human rights advocacy. This is part of our information campaign and our strategy for students to sign the petition for President Arroyo to sign the Anti-Torture Bill. (The anti-torture bill was enacted into law on November 10, 2009. –Ed.)
We were also invited to speak at the Sto. Rosario Parish in Malabon. The audience was composed of parishioners from the area.  The activity was organized to enlighten them about the value of the right to suffrage and to entice the community, particularly the youth who are first time voters, to vote in the upcoming elections. Together with other organizations such as the “Boto Mo, Patrol Mo” network, we discussed the benefit of the automated polls and why we need to protect our votes from external entities who would do anything to manipulate the elections for their selfish interests.
I also conducted educational discussions (EDs) to different sectors of the society. One of my favorite moments was when I gave an ED  to the Indigenous People coming from the Quezon and Rizal provinces who were directly affected by the planned creation of the Laiban Dam. These people were also victims of aggressive development, like the people from the mining communities. They were enlightened of their right to self determination.  It turned out that they fully appreciated the discussion because they know that they are not alone in their struggle and there is an organization that would support them.
In the human rights community, our loved ones are the ones who gave up their lives for the principles that they are fighting for. They can be compared to our national heroes such us Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and the like. We call them martyrs and they deserve to be called as such for all they ever wanted was to break the cycle of oppression and the culture of impunity.
Probably one of the most eye-opening experiences I had with TFDP was the series of jail visits we did to commemorate the International Human Rights Week during the Christmas season. The TFDP, together with students from schools like DLS-CSB, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM), organizations such as SANLAKAS, KPD-YND and SAD visited political prisoners and political detainees in different detention centers in Luzon.
What struck me most about this experience is the realization that political prisoners and detainees are very good and responsible citizens of our country. Though some chose to bear arms, most of them are innocent and all of them are fighting because of the existence of injustice. They are not thugs or bandits like some others believe, a lot of them are even innocent of crimes they are being charged with. Like our forefathers, they fought for justice and the advancement of human rights; but in return, the state branded them as terrorists and treated them as such, detained them and tortured them with impunity. Their stories are very inspiring, in the sense that despite all the persecution and humiliation, they remain steadfast in their beliefs and continue their struggle inside the penal facilities.
I fully appreciated the meetings because it was during these meetings that we planned the intricacies of the series of activities that we had to do before an actual event.  I also learned to be flexible if things did not go as planned. In organizing events, meetings happen not just once, but a lot of times and more often, in different places. This is to ensure that every individual and organization involved are updated about the preparations for an event. Though meetings are usually long and arduous, they are meant to concretize the flow of activities and ensure everything needed such as materials and human resource are in place and to come up with adjustments when problems arise.
December is probably the busiest month of the year for this is when we commemorate the International Human Rights Week.  During this time, I was part of TFDP’s organizing committee for the activities during the human rights week.  A big part of my task revolved around organizing and mobilizing all resources necessary for the big event.
The first event was the Anti-Mining Conference. The objective of the conference was to gather all human rights defenders who are against foreign large-scale mining in their regions and come up with a unified anti-mining campaign plan.  We also invited speakers from LRC, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), and AKBAYAN Party-list.  They were Mr. Romel De Vera, Mr. Max De Mesa, and Ms Kit Melgar, respectively.
The second event was the Human Rights Defenders’ Forum. The objective of this event was to gather all human rights defenders from all parts of the country to come up with a plan on how to work together for human rights defense, and to create the foundation for a formal organization of human rights defenders.
We also organized the jail visits known as Paskuhan Sa Kampo. Participants from schools and the DLS-CSB Center for Social Action and Bukluran Student Alliance of PLM were able to conduct a Christmas party together with the political prisoners and detainees.
Lastly, to celebrate the International Human Rights Day on December 10, we conducted a program in Plaza Miranda together with other partner NGOs and marched towards Mendiola bridge for a bigger program to condemn the gruesome Maguindanao massacre.
I learned in TFDP that strong belief and motivation are not enough for an advocacy to be projected and championed. It needs collective action, intricate planning, strategizing and tacticizing for any cause to succeed. Adjustments along the way should be done, if need be.  Based on my experience in TFDP, this is how things work inside my program.
All in all, my experience in TFDP is the best thing that ever happened to me. It helped me mature not just as an individual but also in terms of my outlook of reality. It was also a great opportunity to experience first hand to be part of an advocacy that is close to my heart – Human Rights.
I believe that the reason why true progress is not achieved is because the government has failed to integrate itself with the masses. Opposition to its policies by the people is an indication that policies that are implemented are violations to our rights and is not for the best interest of the society. If only the government would integrate itself – look deeply into the root causes of poverty and resolving these causes, no lives will be lost, no families will be looking for their loved ones who have been involuntarily disappeared, and no one will be detained or imprisoned for fighting for what is right and just.
The TFDP office opened new doors in my life for the things that I went through were able to unravel some of the things I thought I would never experience. Everything I experienced in the institution I grew to love is the stuff I only read in books. I am lucky to experience everything first hand and I am very thankful that TFDP accepted me as an intern and was not selfish to allow me to have a taste of their way of life. I am willing to be a part of the TFDP family and the struggle to reach the pinnacle of success and the eradication of the oppression of the people.
Note:
Mr. Olegario, or Olegs, is from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB). He was an intern at the TFDP from September to December 2009.  After he finished his internship, he continued helping the organization as a volunteer.  He eventually signified his desire to work for the organization.  He went through the application process and passed.  Olegs is now TFDP’s Human Rights Education Program (HREP) staff in Luzon.

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