Baguio City

Cordillera group urges gov’t to surface IP rights defenders

Sherwin de Vera

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Cordillera group urges gov’t to surface IP rights defenders

FILE PHOTO: Dexter Capuyan (left) and Gene Roz Jamil De Jesus.

'We express deep concern for the safety and well-being of Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus,' says the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – A Cordillera rights group has called on the government to surface to two individuals whom they believe are under the custody of law enforcement after they went missing on April 28.

“We express deep concern for the safety and well-being of Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus,” said Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) in a May 3 urgent alert.

CHRA said the last reported contact from their peers was last Friday, 9 pm, somewhere in Taytay, Rizal.

The CHRA also appealed for public support to locate them and ascertain their situation.

“We believe that state security units have them in custody and fear for their safety and well-being. We urge whoever holds them to surface them immediately, respect their rights and treat them humanely,” the group said.

Capuyan is an Igorot from La Trinidad, Benguet, while De Jesus, a resident of Bulacan, last communicated with his family at 7:36 pm on April 28, according to his mother’s social media post.

Napakahirap para sa aming pamilya ang bagay na ito. Ilang araw nang dala-dala namin ang matinding pag-aalala. Pinipilit na maging normal ang pagharap sa lahat ngunit sa likod ay puno ng paghihinagpis. Sana ay magkaroon na ng linaw ang paghahanap,” De Jesus’ mother, Ditz, said in the post.

(This is very hard for our family. We have been deeply worried for several days now. We try our best to face all these despite our pain. We hope we can see the light in our search.)

Rebel leader?

Capuyan is among the individuals named in the list of alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army released by the Department of National Defense and Department of the Interior and Local Government. Authorities are offering an P1.85-million bounty for his arrest.

Government agencies claim that the 56-year-old Capuyan is an ranking officer of the Chadli Molintas Command NPA Ilocos Cordillera.

Capuyan was among the more than 600 individuals named in the Department of Justice petition to proscribe the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. His name was removed when state prosecutors trimmed the number of respondents to eight. A Manila court junked the petition in September 2022.

He was also implicated in the February 2015 New People’s Army ambush against a military and police convoy in Quirino, Ilocos Sur, resulting in five soldiers’ killed and six others wounded

Student leaders

Capuyan and De jesus were former University of the Philippines Baguio students.

Capuyan served as the editor-in-chief of the student publication, Outcrop, and the League of Filipino Students chairperson in the early 1980s.

De Jesus, a Communication Major in Journalism cum laude, was the chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Students and the UP Baguio Council of Leaders before graduating in 2016. He also served as the Cordillera regional coordinator of the National Union of Students of the Philippines.

According to his family’s post, he is currently the information and networking officer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples.

Leia Castro-Margate, a former instructor of De Jesus in UP Baguio, described him as a “good writer.”

“He was the kind of student you would be proud of as a teacher, didn’t neglect his studies while still serving the people outside school work. He is not just as activist for show but someone who walks the talk,” she said in an online interview.

“He was very humble and down to earth,” Castro-Margate added. –

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