human rights in the Philippines

Cebu abduction survivor vows calling int’l attention to case of Bulacan environmental activists

John Sitchon

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Cebu abduction survivor vows calling int’l attention  to case of Bulacan environmental activists

REUNITED. Development worker and labor rights advocates Dyan Gumanao reunite with her family members after a press conference at the University of the Philippines-Cebu on January 21, 2023.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Survivor Dyan Gumanao says the two environmental activists are nothing short of brave as they exposed the truth behind their abduction

CEBU, Philippines – Abduction survivor Dyan Gumanao was forced to relive her trauma after environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro revealed in a press conference on Tuesday, September 19, that they were indeed kidnapped and coerced into military captivity.

Gumanao, who is in Geneva, Switzerland as a delegate for the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Watch at the 54th United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session, told Rappler that the anxiety and fear still lingers in her mind when thinking about the days she and her partner, Armand Dayoha, were held captive in January this year.

“We were blindfolded, handcuffed, and (held incommunicado) for several days…we were expecting to be a part of the long list of extrajudicial killings since that was the usual trend,” Gumanao said.

Gumanao feared that they would be framed as just rebels who died in an armed encounter with the military, when in reality they were doing their jobs as development workers, helping small communities uphold their rights.

On those nights, she said, what was running through their heads was the thought that their captors only had control over their physical bodies and never their principles.

It was only when a multi-sectoral campaign, led by human rights groups and aided by administrators of the University of the Philippines in Cebu, pushed their captors to release the development workers, reuniting them with their families.

The same spirit of support was present during the presser organized by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Groups called for the activists’ immediate and safe release in a protest staged just outside where the presser was held.

‘We were abducted’: Activists counter military account at NTF-ELCAC presser

‘We were abducted’: Activists counter military account at NTF-ELCAC presser

Walay laing nagpaluyo niini kundili ang militar, NTF-ELCAC, ug mismo ang estado aron hadlukon, pa-undangon, ug babagan ang nagkakusog nga pakigbisog sa katawhan batok sa nagkagrabeng krisis, korapsyon, ug pagbalewala sa gobyerno sa kalisod nga nasinati sa katawhan,” Gumanao said.

(There are no other culprits behind this except the military, NTF-ELCAC, and the state in order to strike fear, halt, and bar the strengthening movement of the masses against the worsening crisis, corruption, and indifference of the government towards the struggles faced by the people.)

For Gumanao, the two activists were nothing short of brave as they exposed the truth of their abduction depite the presence of the military in the media event.

Gumanao called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and independent bodies, both domestic and international, to probe the incident and provide a solution to the increasing cases of abduction and enforced disappearances in the Philippines.

“During the meetings with the Special Procedures and UN Missions, we will really voice these concerns and call for their immediate monitoring and report on human rights violation cases in the Philippines,” Gumanao said.

On September 2, reports of Tamano and Castro’s abduction surfaced after AKAP KA and activist groups claimed that they were dragged into SUVs at night while working on relief operations in Bataan.

On September 15, National Security Council (NSC) Director Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said that Castro and Tamano “voluntarily surrendered” to the military and were “safe and sound”.

This was later proven false after the two environmental activists revealed that they were coerced to be under military custody.

‘Abducted’ environmental activists now reunited with family, friends

‘Abducted’ environmental activists now reunited with family, friends


Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!