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BAGUIO, Philippines – The families of indigenous peoples’ rights advocates Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus have reached out to the Police Regional Office in the Cordillera (PROCOR), seeking help in locating their loved ones. It has been nine days since they went missing on April 28 in Taytay, Rizal.
Cynthia Capuyan, the 89-year-old mother of Dexter, led the submission of a letter addressed to Police-Cordillera chief Brigadier General David Peredo on Wednesday, May 10, appealing for the police’s help in finding the two.
Accompanied by human rights lawyers and friends of De Jesus, she brought the letter to Camp Bado Dangwa in La Trinidad, Benguet.
The letter, signed by Capuyan’s mother and Mercedita de Jesus, Gene’s mother, read in part: “We seek assistance, firmly believing that PNP PROCOR upholds truth and justice, in order for us to locate them.”
They added, “Furthermore, if there are grounds to deprive them of their liberty, we ask you to bring them and present them before the appropriate venue where the rule of law and due process hold utmost importance.”
Colonel Patrick Joseph Allan, deputy regional director for administration, and other police officers received the letter and held discussions with Capuyan’s mother and aunt.
The mothers also filed a formal inquiry regarding the whereabouts of the two men.
During a press conference in Quezon City on the same day, a search team led by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and Karapatan said people claiming to be operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) forcibly took Capuyan and De Jesus.
Lawyer Ryan Solano from the Cortes Law Office, who is assisting the families in the search, said an inquiry is allowed under the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act.
He said, “We are legally permitted to visit these camps, search for the camp leaders, and verify that they are not illegally holding or restraining these people.”
But Solano acknowledged the challenges of the search, given the lack of information about what transpired and who is holding them, requiring a meticulous search of the camps.
Solano said the groups were convinced that state forces were responsible for the disappearance of the two University of the Philippines-Baguio alumni.
He cited allegations against Capuyan as a New People’s Army (NPA) leader and his inclusion in the original petition to designate the NPA as a terrorist group.
Solano said, “This is precisely why we believe they are being held captive by government forces.”
Where are they?
Lieutenant Colonel Greg Ammiyao, deputy director of the Police-Cordillera’s Community Affairs Division, said they assured the families that they would help in the search.
He, however, said the two men were not in custody of the police in the region. But he confirmed that there was an arrest warrant for Capuyan.
“Despite the warrant, we will do our best to aid the family in their search for Dexter,” Ammiyao said.
Defense agencies have identified Capuyan as one of the alleged leaders of communist rebels in the Cordillera, with a bounty of P1.85 million for his arrest due to a two-count murder case.
He has been implicated in the February 2015 NPA-staged ambush in Quirino, Ilocos Sur, which resulted in the deaths of five soldiers and injuries to six others.
A mother’s plea
Capuyan’s mother expressed deep concerns for the safety of her son.
“I am unable to sleep at night. I constantly worry about whether he is eating properly. I fear that the captors may have harmed my son. All I plead for is my son’s safe return,” she said.
Capuyan’s family also went to Camp Allen to deliver the same letter to the Task Group Baguio (TGB).
Soldiers at the gate, however, did not accept the letter, saying the TGB commander, Colonel Christopher Sab-it, was unavailable at the time. – Rappler.com