human rights defenders

Eleazar orders probe into death of Cebu development worker Elena Tijamo

Lian Buan
Eleazar orders probe into death of Cebu development worker Elena Tijamo

ABDUCTED. Photo of Elena 'Lina' Tijamo.


Elena Tijamo was abducted in June 2020 in Cebu, and was found dead in a Mandaluyong hospital over a year later, in late August. She worked for the red-tagged FARDEC.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief PNP chief General Guillermo Eleazar has ordered a “thorough investigation” into the death of Cebu-based development worker Elena Tijamo.

“I have ordered our Anti-Kidnapping Group to coordinate with Tijamo’s family for more information on what happened,” Eleazar said in a statement in Filipino on Saturday, September 4. 

Tijamo was found dead in a Mandaluyong hospital in late August – a year after her abduction in Cebu.

Tijamo was a program coordinator of the Farmers Development Center-Central Visayas (FARDEC), an organization that gives legal aid and agriculture education to farmers.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense had red-tagged FARDEC, along with 18 organizations, during a congressional hearing in November 2019.

On June 13, 2020, unidentified men and women “bearing long firearms” broke into Tijamo’s home in Bantayan Island in Cebu and took her.

According to Tijamo’s family members, the household – Elena’s sister, parents, and youngest daughter – witnessed the abduction.

Tijamo would be allowed phone calls the entire time, and she would tell her family she was being given medication and would be sent home once quarantine restrictions eased, according to family members whom Rappler talked to over the course of its reporting.

According to rights group Karapatan, Tijamo had managed to call a sibling on August 27 to say that she would be undergoing surgery at the VRP Medical Center in Mandaluyong City.

A death certificate issued by the hospital’s physician would show that  a certain “Ava Perez Reyes” had died due to cardiopulmonary arrest and aspiration.

“Ava Perez Reyes” turned out to be Tijamo. Her family members confirmed her death after viewing her remains at the  St. Peter Memorial Chapel in Quezon City. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.