ENRIQUEZ, Albert R.

enriquezAlbert Enriquez was a young human rights worker in Quezon when he was abducted in 1985, only 200 meters away from home. Despite all his family’s efforts to find him, he disappeared without a trace.

Enriquez was a bright student with many accomplishments. He belonged to the top 10 of his high school graduating class, passed the qualifying examinations for the Philippine Military Academy, and was one of only two high school graduates from Quezon province to be given a state scholarship to go to college.

Instead of pursuing a military career, however, he chose to enrol in civil engineering at the Luzonian University, the biggest school in the province. Martial law had curtailed the activities of student organizations, but under his leadership as president of the technology department, the various school organizations and fraternities were able to unite and revive the University Collegiate Student Council. Enriquez was elected its chairman for the school year 1984-1985. Under his leadership, the council negotiated with school authorities for improvements in school facilities and a freeze on tuition fee increases.

This was a time, after the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, when people were deciding, all over the Philippines, that enough was enough. Enriquez, who was only in grade school when martial law was declared, now became an active participant in cause-oriented politics. He volunteered to work with the local unit of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, which had been documenting the numerous cases of violations and military abuses in Quezon. He joined the Lucena City chapter of Bayan, and later became its secretary. He assisted prominent human-rights lawyers Joker Arroyo, Wigberto Tañada and Ed Abcede in a court case involving political detainees. At a protest rally held to commemorate the second death anniversary of Aquino’s assassination, he was the emcee, and he read out aloud to the audience the long list of human rights violations in the province.

Not long afterwards, Enriquez was on his way home when two armed men dragged him from the tricycle he was riding into a car. He shouted: “I am Abet Enriquez. My parents are Mario Enriquez and Clarita Rivera. Tell my parents I’ve been picked up by the military!” Two days later, his family heard that tricycle drivers in the area had been talking about the incident.

His parents searched high and low for their only son. They approached relatives, and friends of relatives, to help them. They wrote letters to the authorities, all the way up to Malacañang. They waited in various detention centers, military camps and defense offices. Sometimes, they received answers that gave them hope he was still alive, and they just needed to bring him a change of clothes. More often there would be denials that a young man of that name was being held in custody. Once, they received a tip from an anonymous letter writer that a military man who knew about the abduction was preparing to leave the country.

The parents of Albert Enriquez died without seeing him again.