By ANINAW PRODUCTIONS
Reposted by Bulatlat.com
CEBU CITY — Family and colleagues of development worker Elena Tijamo had been looking for her for more than a year since she was abducted. Today, International Day of the Disappeared, they did not expect the manner by which Tijamo was surfaced. She was reported dead in a Manila hospital.
According to rights group Karapatan-Central Visayas, a certain Michael phoned Tijamo’s brother Carlos — who is in Manila — that his sister passed away on August 28 at VRP Medical Center in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila. Michael said Tijamo underwent a “goiter operation.”
Tijamo, program coordinator of Central Visayas Farmers Development Center (FARDEC) and an agriculturist, was forcibly taken from her home in barangay Kampingganon, Bantayan Island, Cebu around 8 p.m. on June 13, 2020 by four unidentified armed men accompanied by two women.
Tijamo’s daughter Dawn confirmed to Karapatan-Central Visayas that her mother suffered from goiter but said that it was not a “serious” condition. It is also unclear how and when Elena was transported to Manila.
Family members later found out that Tijamo’s body was already brought to St. Peter Funeral Homes in Quezon Avenue, Quezon City.
Karapatan-Central Visayas said Dawn sent a photo of her mother to the funeral home. The staff then confirmed that the body looks like Tijamo but had been registered under the name Ava Perez Reyes.
As of writing, Carlos is unable to claim the body, which he positively identified as his mother based on the phicture sent to him by St. Peter’s Funeral Homes. A certain Neil Reyes brought Tijamo’s remains to the funeral home and claimed to be her nephew.
Karapatan-Central Visayas said the family said they do not know any Michael or Neil Reyes.
“These circumstances and these false names continue to hinder the family from claiming the body,” said Karapatan-Central Visayas in a statement.
“Karapatan-Central Visayas expresses indignation over another attempt of the state to withhold the body of a peasant rights advocate from her family as they previously did with Ka Randy Echanis and political prisoner Jesus Alegre,” it added.
Police officers forcibly took Echanis’ body on August 10, 2020 from a funeral home in Quezon City. Alegre, a farmer from Sagay, Negros Occidental who was detained over a murder charge that groups said was used to drive him away from protecting his family’s land, was only reunited with his family members after his death in prison.
FARDEC Executive Director Patrick Torres had said in July 2020 that the red-tagging against the farmer’s organization and its community workers are connected to the abduction of Tijamo, who had also been a victim of red-tagging.
Editor’s note: The article was updated. Tijamo’s daughter Dawn sent a picure of her mother to St. Peter’s Funeral Homes, not to the hospital as earlier stated. Apologies for the mistake.