At about 6 p.m. on October 5, Jimmylisa Badayos and Calixto Vistal had just finished their shift at the factory and were at the gate of the company when armed men in civilian clothes seized them.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — The Karapatan human rights organization in Central Visayas has sounded the appeal for the immediate release of a daughter of a disappeared activist and her co-worker in Cebu.
According to a report, Jimmylisa Badayos, 36 years old and single, and Calixto Vistal, 38 years old were abducted as they were leaving the premises of EuroForest Products Industries, Inc in Mandaue City, Cebu last October 5. The two are employees of the said company.
According to a report, combined police and military elements of the City Intelligence Branch-Philippine National Police-Cebu City Police Office (CIB-CCPO) led by Chief Inspector Romeo Santander, and the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) under the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command (CentCom) were behind the abduction.
At about 6 p.m. on October 5, Badayos and Vistal had just finished their shift at the factory and were at the gate of the company when they were seized by armed men in civilian clothes. Witnesses said the two victims struggled and called for help as they were forced inside a waiting vehicle. The entire time, the armed men warned bystanders, who consequently became witnesses, against interfering because they said they are with the government.
The abductors then drove the two victims to Camp Sotero Cabahug in Cebu City, where they were taken to the office of PNP-City Intelligence Branch led by Supt. Romeo Santader. The two learned that their abductors are elements of the MIG and the CIB-CCPO.
After her arrest, Badayos has since been visited by members of the human rights group Karapatan. She said that as she was being forced into the vehicle, she struggled against her abductors, one of whom grabbed her face and squeezed so hard that his hands left marks around her mouth and cheeks. Badayos said she was pulling her shoulder bag toward her and was surprised when she saw one of the men put a a heavy, metallic object inside it. One of the men pushed her hand away and took her bag.
Badayos said she and Vistal were interrogated separately by officers of the MIG and CIB. They were accused of being leaders of the New People’s Army (NPA). The interrogation lasted up to 11 p.m.. While still at the CIB, Badayos learned that a news crew from the GMA7 network arrived. As she peeked through the door, she saw her interrogator, Major Mendroza, her other abductors and CIB police officers presented her shoulder bag and a hand gun before the media.
Badayos said she became nervous as she knew she was being framed with that gun, while the real contents of her bag – her passport, an ATM card, a broadband dongle and P2,300 cash – were missing.
At 1 p.m. the next day, Oct. 6, police men fetched Vistal for another round of interrogation, even as Badayos and her relatives protested. At 2:30 p.m., the police men took them to a CIB office to have their pictures taken. Badayos said she was anxious the entire time because the police never told her where she or Vistal would be taken.
On October 8, at 2:30 a.m., 30 heavily-armed soldiers took Vistal from Camp Sotero Cabahug and boarded him into a vehicle. He remains missing as of this writing.
Karapatan-Central Visayas has already held a protest against the arrest of the two civilians in front of the CCPO on October 7.
Karapatan spokesman Dennis Michael Abarientos said the police violated the rights of Badayos and Vistal when they arrested the two without a warrant and without telling them why they were being arrested.
“It was an abduction -– they were grabbed and then forced inside a van. It was the sort of the thing that happened during martial law,” he said.
In statements to the media, City Intelligence Branch (CIB) Chief Romeo Santander argued that they obeyed proper procedures when they arrested the two. He also claimed that they were justified in arresting them.
The official, however, said the Cebu police will still have to determine what cases will be filed against Badayos and Vistal. The two, he said, will be turned over to the Dumaguete police where the warrant was served.
“We were just following orders based on the warrant, we did not conclude that they were members of the NPA,” explained Santander.
According to reports, Vistal’s arrest was based on a warrant for murder issued by Judge Roderick Maxino of the Regional Trial Court Branch 32 in Dumaguete City. Badayos, in the meantime, stands to be charged after the police allegedly found a fragmentation grenade and a caliber .38 revolver containing four bullets inside her bag when she was arrested.
Father abducted and disappeared in 1990
Karapatan Central Visayas pointed out that the abduction of the two fell almost on the same date 22 years ago when Badayos’ father Jimmy Badayos, then 34, was abducted Oct. 3, 1990 at their house in Banawa, Cebu City, by intelligence agents of the Cebu Metropolitan District Command (Metrodiscom). His wife and two children, accompanied him to Camp Sotero Cabahug. Jimmy, who was accused of being an NPA leader, was supposedly brought to the Chief of the Intelligence Division, but was never seen again.
On Oct. 8, 1990, the Badayos family filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, but the Metrodiscom reasoned that Jimmy “escaped” from detention on Oct. 4. The court accepted the military’s explanation and denied the writ. Amnesty International in its own fact sheet on the so-called “escape” noted that the Metrodiscom camp at the time was on red alert and heavily guarded because of reported movements of renegade soldiers in Mindanao.
Jimmy was a labor leader along with his brother Wennie, now chairman of AMA-Sugbo Kilusang Mayo Uno in Cebu.
In 2006 in a report in SunStar.com, Jimmy’s wife and Jimmylisa’s mother Elisa accused then Metro-discom commander, now Sen. Panfilo Lacson of planning Jimmy’s disappearance and staging his supposed escape.
Badayos’ brother, Jerry, was killed in March 21, 2006 by members of the AFP. He was 28. The military also accused him of being a member of the NPA.
Karapatan has called for the immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights to look into the abduction and illegal arrest and detention of the two victims. It also said that the military should be compelled to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
Abarientos, in a separate report, said that under the Aquino administration, political activists continue to be harassed, including 16 activists from Central Visayas who are currently in prison.