Four UP campuses join call to surface missing students, alumni

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Four UP campuses join call to surface missing students, alumni
This photo from the UP Baguio website shows the Oblation, a statue that has become a symbol for UP.
UP Baguio

MANILA, Philippines — Four constituent universities of the University of the Philippines have sounded the alarm over the recent disappearance of UP alumni — all of whom human rights groups suspect have been abducted by armed state forces.

In separate statements, the UP campuses of Manila, Baguio, Cebu and Visayas have called to surface three activists whose whereabouts continue to be unknown as well as others who have similarly gone missing over the years.

These are Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” De Jesus and Dexter Capuyan – alumni of UP Baguio – and former UP Manila student Patricia Cierva. 

Cierva was reportedly taken by members of the 501st Infantry Brigade along with activist Cedrick Casaño this month, according to the statement of UP Manila and an advisory by rights group Karapatan Cagayan Valley.

UP Manila on Sunday called for the “immediate surfacing” of Cierva and Casaño and urged all relevant government agencies to ensure their safe return to their families.
“We urge all government agencies to adhere to the basic tenets of democracy,” UP Manila said.

“We believe that our democracy, won through decades of activitism and patriotism, can only be practiced to the fullest when the basic human rights of every Filipino is respected and protected, and these rights include individual safety, dignity, and freedom of speech.”

Cierva is an alumna of the Development Studies program of the UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences and is a former officer of the UP Manila University Student Council.  

UP Manila has also called on all its former and current teachers, students, officials, employees, to call for the surfacing of not just Cierva and Casaño, “but of all those who were wrongly taken and arrested.” 

UP Baguio earlier issued a statement urging authorities to exhaust all efforts to find its alumni De Jesus and Capuyan, who have been missing since April. 

Their disappearance has “not only caused anxiety and distress to their loved ones but also created a chilling effect to the safety and security of our community,” UP Baguio said.

“We urge all government and concerned agencies specifically those that have already been approached by the families of (De Jesus and Capuyan), to exhaust all means and resources to fully address their disappearance.

De Jesus graduated from UP Baguio in 2016, while Capuyan was a student there in the 1980s. 

While no alumni from UP Cebu and UP Visayas have been reported missing, the constituent universities threw their support behind the surfacing of the missing UP students, citing an incident in January where two UP Cebu alumni who are also activists were abducted in broad daylight at a port area in Cebu.

The UP Cebu Chancellor said in a statement: “Their case unsettles as much as it reminds us of the abduction of Dyan Gumanao and Armand Jake Dayoha, our fellow UP Cebu alumni, in January earlier this year.”

“While Dyan and Armand’s safe return after a public outcry gave us some solace, it also underscored the unsettling reality that activists continue to be at risk,” UP Cebu Chancellor Leo Malagar said.

“Dyan, Armand, now Dexter, and Bazoo. To date, we are not aware of any progress or updates about the investigations that were supposedly conducted in the cases of Dyan and Armand. A troubling pattern emerges, calling for immediate and effective collective action.”

UP Visayas similarly demanded in a statement for the safe return of the missing UP students, saying that their disappearances follows a “pattern of injustice” indicative of the constant harassment suffered by activists and critics.

UP has a long history of student activism — particularly since Martial Law and the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship — and has been tagged in recent years as a recruitment ground for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front. Not all UP students are activists and activism does not equate to membership in or support for the CPP-NPA-NDF.

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