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Group sounds alarm on disappearance of activists since start of Marcos-Duterte admin

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Group sounds alarm on disappearance of activists since start of Marcos-Duterte admin
This photo shows indigenous peoples rights defender Gene Roz Jamil De Jesus.
Facebook / Anakbayan UC

MANILA, Philippines — An ecumenical youth group has sounded the alarm on the apparent string of disappearances of rights activists under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., saying that several of those who suffered “utterly disturbing and horrifying” abductions were tortured or killed.

Expressing its “deep concern and disturbance over abductions and disappearances since the start of the Marcos-Duterte administration,” the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) cited two more fresh incidents of student leaders going missing in Cagayan this week.

Based on an alert by rights group Karapatan Cagayan Valley, peasant and youth organizers Cedric Casaño and Patricia Cierva were “captured alive” by the 501st IB on May 18 in Gonzaga, Cagayan. Cierva was previously a student at the University of the Philippines Manila.

This comes less than a month after indigenous peoples' rights defenders Gene Roz Jamil De Jesus and Dexter Capuyan were reported missing.

RELATED: IP rights defender, companion go missing 

The youth group has monitored at least 21 cases of alleged abductions of activists and organizers by military personnel since Marcos assumed the presidency, all of whom “suffered different fates,” SCMP Spokesperson Kej Andres said.

The youth group named the following:

  • Ma. Elena Pampoza, Elgene Mungcal (July 3); 
  • Stephen Tauli (August 20); 
  • Cherilyn Rebita, Jackilyn Egtob (August 26); 
  • Aurily Havana, Jennifer Binungkasan (November 3); 
  • Dyan Gumanao, Armand Dayoha (January 10); 
  • Ariel Badiang (February 6); 
  • Leonardo Sermona, Jr. (March 16); 
  • Rogelio Posadas, “Ka Mikmik”, Renel delos Santos, Denald Mailen (April 19); 
  • Mary Joyce Lizada, Arnulfo Aumentado (April 24); 
  • Gene Roz “Bazoo” de Jesus, Dexter Capuyan (April 28); 
  • Patricia Cierva, Cedrick Casaño (May 18)

“Tauli was found a day after. NDFP Consultant Posadas and his companion “Ka Mikmik” were killed. Rebita and Egtob were NPA members who suffered torture, including holding hostage Rebita’s infant daughter—violations of International Humanitarian Law,” Andres said. 

“Many of those in the list remain missing.” 

On May 4, the Cagayan Provincial Information Office posted on Facebook information from the 501st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army indicating that an unidentified female student from a "prestigious university" was killed in an alleged attack by military personnel on members of the New People’s Army.

Rights workers abducted

Gumanao and Dayoha, who reunited with their families ten days after their capture by state forces, have since taken their case to international bodies in a bid to get them to recommend actions that would pressure the Philippine government to better protect rights workers.

Their apparent abduction was captured on video and posted online a day after. The footage showed them being forced by armed personnel into a vehicle.

“State forces are absolutely callous and thick-skinned even after they have been proven and pointed at as those responsible for disappearances and killings, especially after the spread of the video of Gumanao and Dayoha’s abduction. Reminiscent of Marcos, Sr.’s martial law, the string of abductions and disappearances are utterly disturbing and horrifying,” Andres said.

Andres has called on authorities to surface Cierva, Casaño and other activists who remain missing.

“May we remind the Marcos-Duterte administration, the police, and military, that the law forbids involuntary disappearances. Moreover, activism is not a crime and even  combatants are assured of humane treatment under International Humanitarian Law,” Andres said.

The administration of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the president's father, was marked by a number of human rights abuses with an estimated 3,257 known extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented tortures, 77 'disappeared', and 70,000 incarcerations, according to Amnesty International, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and similar human rights monitoring entities. 

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