On Kimiko’s Sixth Birthday: A Plea for the Release of Her Daddy, Political Prisoner Scientist Kim A. Gargar

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kwentoIt’s Kimiko Gabrielle Silverio-Gargar’s sixth birthday today! She’s serving donuts and cake to her classmates and friends, and she will be opening presents (one of them is a pink tutu, and no – she doesn’t study ballet because she wants to learn karate, but she wants to look like a princess while doing it, go figure).
Kimiko is six, and she will not be seeing her daddy for her birthday. Her daddy, political prisoner since October 2, 2013 Kim Ajeas Gargar, left for Mindanao is June last year to do research on the behalf of the Center for Environmental Concerns (CeC). Before he left, he promised Miko that he will return by Christmas and they will go to the playground, watch cartoon movies on his laptop and do fingerpainting and crafts.
Miko waited for her daddy. Waited, and waited, until it became necessary for her to ask me where he was. I wasn’t able to answer her truthfully – I didn’t know how, and I still don’t – but I told her and continuously tell her that her daddy loves her very, very much and misses her like anything. Not wanting to lie to her, I told her that Daddy was far away (he was in Baganga provincial jail in Davao Oriental), and plane tickets were expensive (they are).
I didn’t tell her anything more specific than that, but Miko thinks that her Daddy is back in Holland. Not surprising given that the first four years of Miko’s life, her daddy was in Holland taking his Phd degree in chronobiology in the University of Groningen. When Kim returned in January 2013, he reunited with his daughter and it was such a happy thing to see, the two of them playing together like they were the same age, and I could see sometimes in Kim’s sad expression that he remembered how he had been away for so long, missing so many of Miko’s milestones.
But anyway.
I keep thinking how I’m going to write an essay that explains why Kim should be immediately released from prison, but it’s hard for me to wax eloquent about something so plain and obvious: I can only state the facts as they really are. There is no reason to embellish the truth, and there is no need to dramatize the situation. The case is this: Kim is innocent of all the charges levelled against him by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and he was arrested on false grounds. He continues to be detained on the same, and each second that he remains incarcerated is a vicious violation against his civil, political and human rights.
Kim grew up poor, and he is used to hardship. It was primarily natural-born intelligence and an inherent will to excel that enabled him to reap awards and honors all throughout his academic career. He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in physics from Mindanao State University (MSU)-Iligan Institute of Technology. He passed the UPCAT and qualified as a university scholar, but being severely short of funds, he opted to go to MSU-IIT which has a science program that is more than equal to that of UP. He has taught in different universities – UP Diliman, the Mindanao University of Science and Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and the Mapua Institute of Technology. He has a masters in physics from UP, and in 2009, he was offered a doctorate scholarship in Holland. In Groningen, all his colleagues and research supervisor have nothing but praises for his intellect and his skills.
I am getting tired of writing this because it’s like writing “the sky is blue” or “water is wet”, but as I have written in previous statements – Kim is an academic, a researcher, a scientist and an environmental activist. He is not a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and he has never been a member of the NPA.
I could go on and on about how Kim’s continuing detention is a great blow against the academic and research community (not to mention to the human rights community: according to Karapatan, there are currently 483 political prisoners in the country and the number continues to increase. Pres. BS Aquino is definitely not a human rights advocate); but what I mostly care about is how Kim’s detention is affecting his daughter.
Miko takes after her daddy in so many ways (the way she likes to reason out; the way she explains things; and finally, the way she is intellectually gifted), and she misses her father more and more as she gets older. Because she grew up with her father being away, she is used to not having him always around. She is used to being surrounded by women (mother, aunt, grandmother), but she nonetheless wonders why her father did not make good on his promise to be home by Christmas 2013, and now he won’t be there for her as she blows out the candle on her 6th birthday cake.
To Department of Justice secretary Juliet de Lima, please order the release of Kim A. Gargar now. The Philippine government has no right to imprison him because he is an innocent civilian and the AFP arrested him on malicious and politically-motivated grounds. There is not an iota of truth in the allegations of the AFP that Kim is an NPA, that he was working on behalf of the NPA, and that he had weapons and ammunition when he was arrested. Please review his case now and I am certain that you in your legal wisdom and common sense will see how full of holes the allegations of the military against Kim are. Please release Kim A. Gargar and let him return to his daughter Kimiko. Kimiko is always waiting for her father to return. Please don’t let her experience another Christmas without her father – he’s already missed her birthday.

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