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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) dispatched a quick response operation through its Central Luzon office to look into the abduction of two women environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano.
Groups reported that Castro, 21, and Tamano, 22, were preparing for relief operations and had recently been active against reclamation and coastal development projects when they were allegedly abducted last September 2 in Orion, Bataan.
“This latest case of twin abduction manifests the continuing susceptibility of activists to enforced or involuntary disappearance,” the CHR said in a statement released Thursday, September 7.
The constitutional office urged the Philippine government to take decisive action and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. This is an instrument from the United Nations that would serve as a legal standard that prevents forced disappearances.
The CHR also said it was also important to find the young women as quickly as possible as they are vulnerable to gender-based abuse.
“It is crucial to resolve all cases of ‘desaparecidos” to curb the impunity that enables human right violations to continue,” the CHR added.
Desaparecidos are missing people, or the “disappeared,” abducted by the state or a political organization.
No police record yet
Under Republic Act No. 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, illegal arrest, detention, or abduction, are severe human rights violations.
According to Jonila’s mother, Rose Castro, the police refused to record the case on the blotter. The 2016 guidelines of the Philippine National Police states that a person could be considered missing 24 hours after her perceived disappearance.
In an interview with Radyo 360, Rose said the police were barraging them with questions about the activists instead.
“May gusto silang malaman sa anak ko…. Ang kaso po madami po silang katanungan na hindi na po ayon sa blotter po,” Rose said. (They wanted to know something about my child. The thing is, they have a lot of questions that were not necessary for the blotter.)
Rose did not elaborate what questions were asked by the police.
Almost a week would has passed since the two women were abducted. Castro is a community volunteer for AKAP KA Manila Bay, an alliance of fisherfolk, youth, and church members. Tamano is the program coordinator for the Ecumenical Bishops Forum.
Castro is a psychology major, while Tamano is a business economics graduate, both from the Bulacan State University. – Rappler.com