Abducted labor organizers campaigned for aid for displaced workers and urban poor

Abducted labor organizers Elizabeth ‘Loi’ Magbanua and Alipio ‘Ador’ Juat, campaigned for the release of the ten-thousand peso aid for workers and the urban poor. They have also been under surveillance due to their involvement in establishing a community network to fight threats of demolition in the Parola Compound in Tondo, Manila.


MANILA — Two weeks after its filing, the Supreme Court en banc issued on August 23 a writ of amparo in favor of abducted community organizers Elizabeth ‘Loi’ Magbanua and Alipio ‘Ador’ Juat. The order guarantees the two’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and security.

The petition was filed by Loi’s life partner, Ruth Manglalan and Loi’s niece, Alyssa Marie Magbanua, together with Ador’s daughter, Maureen Juat on August 10.

The SC named army and intelligence officials as respondents to the case: Lieutenant General Bartolome Vicente Bacarro, Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines; [Ret.] General Jose Faustino Jr, Officer-in-Charge, Department of National Defense; [Ret.] General Ricardo de Leon, Director General, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner, Jr, Commanding General of the Philippine Army.

Also named respondents are Major General Roy Galido, Acting Chief of Staff, Philippine Army; Major General Romulo Manel, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence; and, AFP Brigadier General Nolasco Mempin, Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations.

Under surveillance

Before she was abducted, Loi shared to her partner, Ruth that she felt intelligence officers had been following her. “But that didn’t stop her from going to Parola and neighboring communities. Life had to go on,” Ruth told Bulatlat in a Zoom interview.

That has been Loi’s life since Ruth met her in Taguig City in 2004 when they worked together in organizing the local chapter of Gabriela Women’s Party.

Ruth proudly and fondly shared Loi’s beginnings in the workers’ movement. She said Loi came from a family of tenant-farmers in Laguna but started working in an electronics company during the 1980s where she was an active union member until the company closed in 1991. It was then that Loi decided to become a full-time union organizer for the Kilusang Mayo Uno, Ruth said. Loi helped organize some of the most successful strikes including that of the SM workers’ in the late 1990s, Ruth added.

The most recent campaign both Loi and Ador helped organize was the P10,000 immediate unemployment cash assistance for displaced workers and the building of a network to fight demolition threats in the Parola Compound in Tondo, Manila.

Loi and Ador were last seen in Valenzuela City on May 3 where they were supposed to meet labor organizers in the area.

Second time around

It is not the first time that Ador’s family is dealing with an attack on their father’s liberty and safety. His daughter, Maureen, in an interview with Bulatlat, recalled that their family underwent a similar situation during Martial Law when Ador was arrested.

“He was made to lie down on ice, manhandled while a cloth covered his head. My father was physically and mentally tortured,” Maureen said.

Ador was one of the victims who filed and won a class suit against the Marcoses. Maureen said it was only when her father claimed his partial compensation in 2017 that she knew about the details of the torture he suffered under his captors. She was so young then to be aware of what had transpired.

All she and her younger sister knew while they grew up was that their parents were labor organizers. She particularly remembers that her parents roamed around Tondo and other parts of Metro Manila. “We were used to not having them around,” she said. One incident Maureen vividly remembers was in 1986 when the Marcos dictatorship fell. “My father carried me on his shoulders, there were lots of people on the streets. We were at the gates of Malacanang,” she fondly recalls.

Maureen took a month to finally acknowledge that her father had gone missing since May 3. This was because she and her sister claimed that Ador had been getting in touch with them and even visited them after May 3.

During the interview, Maureen apologized several times for not remembering specific days when her father called, visited her sister, or visited her at home. She was just sure he did all those since he supposedly went missing on May 3 What Maureen vividly remembers is that her father was timid, not his usual self when he made the surprise appearances.

“At one point my father visited while he was handcuffed, with a bodyguard,” Maureen said. “When he called, he would always say he was in Camp Aguinaldo,” she added.

At one point, Maureen said her father told her that he and Loi were abducted in Valenzuela but Loi was forced into another car and that was the last time he saw Loi.

That led to the filing of a writ of amparo for Loi and Ador with army and intelligence officials as the respondents to the case.

Search goes on

Ruth shared that she and members of the women’s group Gabriela had gone to several detention centers, 16 hospitals, funeral homes and others to search for Loi and Ador. On July 13, Ruth said they went to the Commission on Human Rights to seek redress.

Ruth said she was always hopeful for the Supreme Court’s favorable decision and now that it has been realized, she said she and Ador’s family will continue with the search.

“If we do not speak, if we do not fight this out, Loi and Ador will not be the last they will abduct. This is beyond them. Our call is a stop on the abductions and all forms of attacks on labor organizers, on people in the communities, on all who have been fighting this oppressive system,” Ruth said.

“The abductors of Loi and Ador aim to silence us but there should be no room for fear. We need to fight back, we need to let our voices be heard,” Ruth ended.

Before the interview ended, Ruth shared that on May 4 and 9, two other labor organizers from Tondo were abducted. They were never heard of since then and their families have not come forward to tell their stories. (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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