Ringing phone keeps hope alive for missing coed’s maBy Carmela Reyes-Estrope |Inquirer Central Luzon
CITY OF MALOLOS—University of the Philippines coeds Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño have been missing for seven years now, but Cadapan’s mother says her daughter’s mobile phone still rings when she dials it, giving her hope the two may still be alive.
Erlinda Cadapan said she occasionally dials Sherlyn’s number and is relieved when she hears it ring because this indicates the telephone is still active and is being charged. No one answers her calls, however.
“That’s proof of life pero iyon nga lang (but the thing is), illegally detained pa rin sila (they are still illegally detained),” the mother said.
Clinging to hope
The parents of the missing students said they spent the Christmas holiday clinging to hope that their children were alive since Cadapan’s phone continued to ring.
Empeño and Cadapan were seized in Hagonoy, Bulacan, on June 26, 2006, allegedly by soldiers under the command of Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan. Palparan, since retired, is now in hiding from charges stemming from that case.
“We dial her cell phone which she used before she disappeared. It rings most of the time, especially when we dial in the early morning but nobody picks up our call,” Cadapan’s mother said.
“Right now I am in tears, as I imagine the hardship Sherlyn is enduring. It is the seventh year that we place her photograph at the dinner table so she can join us in spirit. I feel so hopeful that 2013 is the year we will see my daughter,” she said.
The sentiment was shared by Empeño’s mother, Concepcion, who said: “I’m hoping they are still alive. I have to think positive for as long as I’m alive.”
Empeño said her daughter would have turned 29. Karen was 22 when she was abducted. Sherlyn would be 35 years old this year, according to her mother.
Palparan and another soldier, M/Sgt. Rizal Hilario, have been in hiding for a year after a Bulacan judge ordered their arrest along with two other military officers in connection with the abduction of Cadapan and Empeño.
Only coaccused Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and Staff Sgt. Edgardo Osorio have surrendered and have been standing trial for kidnapping.