Missing Cebu-based activists found; parents mulling to file charges

Danilo Gumanao said his daughter was able to reach out to them on Sunday, Jan. 15, asking to be rescued in a resort in Carmen, Cebu. She said they were left by their abductors at the said resort.

With reports from Anne Marxze D. Umil

CEBU CITY – Cebu-based development workers and labor rights advocates Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha were rescued by their parents on Monday, Jan. 16.

In an interview with ANC today, the parents of the two said they continue to gather evidence as they mull over filing of charges against the perpetrators as well as the inaction of authorities during the time when they were looking for their children.

“Charges should be filed. Because we went to the police to investigate their disappearance but they told us that no abduction took place. Then there’s this video footage showing the abduction of the two,” Sarah Dayoha, mother of Armand, said in Filipino in an interview with ANC.

Dennis Abarientos, spokesperson of Karapatan-Central Visayas, said they are looking for prospects with the legal team for case building. He said the parents have filed complaints with different police stations in Cebu since the time that Dyan and Armand were reported missing. But there were no results in the investigation conducted by the police, Abarientos said.

“We hope that they can release a result of their investigation. All leads were being fed to them by us. They only investigate through social media. We hope they exert more effort so that the money (salaries through tax) that we give them is worth it. And also for them to redeem themselves, for them not to be treated as suspects or in collusion with the actual implementers of the abduction,” Abarientos said in the television interview.

The two were expected to arrive in Cebu City on Jan. 10 after spending the holidays with their family. According to Dyan’s father, Danilo, they received a text message from her on the same day that they arrived in Cebu from Cagayan de Oro but there were no updates from them after that.

The two were reported missing on Jan. 13.

Read: Cebu-based activists reported missing

Gumanao said his daughter was able to reach out to them on Sunday, Jan. 15, asking to be rescued in a resort in Carmen, Cebu. She said they were left by their abductors at the said resort. But due to time constraints, Gumanao said they were able to fetch the two the next morning, Jan. 16.

Abarientos said that according to Dyan, the abductors introduced themselves as police officers. They were immediately handcuffed and blindfolded after the abductors forced them inside the vehicle.

This incident was recorded in a video and was reportedly sent by a concerned citizen after news of the missing pair circulated online.

In the video, the two were seen being manhandled into a gray SUV parked right by the docking area. Men in plainclothes had forced the two into the vehicle in broad daylight which was witnessed by several passengers.

Port authorities, including the Philippine Coast Guard, were also seen watching the incident, despite their earlier claims to human rights groups that there was no commotion that day.

Psychological torture

Dyan and Armand were found physically fine and will undergo medical examination. While there were no physical indication that two were tortured, Abarientos said they underwent psychological torture.

“They are not elaborative on that aspect (torture) but they were blindfolded all throughout and were separated in different rooms. And then men who interrogated Dyan would say ‘Tuliro na yata si Armand, baka maloloko na yun.’ There are many kinds of torture and the most difficult is psychological,” Abarientos said in the interview.

He said they are now in the rehabilitation process and they are hoping that the two would be able to recover from the trauma.

Widespread support

Meanwhile, the parents of Dyan and Armand are grateful to the concerned citizens who responded to their call when they were still looking for the two.

Gumanao said that they received pictures from different people who were in the same ship as Dyan and Armand, showing that they were in the crowd.

He also added that they were not able to get the plate number of the vehicle where Dyan and Armand were forced into. They called on the public to continue sending pieces of evidence so they can build up a case.

Meanwhile, Abarientos said that the safe rescue of the two is attributed to widespread public support.

Holding perpetrators accountable

Meanwhile, Jaime Paglinawan of BAYAN-Central Visayas called for the incident to be included in the International Labor Organization’s High-Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM), which will look into labor rights violations in the country, specifically in relation to the ILO Convention 87 or the freedom of association, this January 23-27.

Dyan and Armand served as union organizers involved with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Region VII Union and the Alliance of Health Workers-Cebu, respectively.

Paglinawan added that the case was not isolated, citing the enforced disappearance of another Cebu-based development worker, Elena Tijamo of the Central Visayas Farmers Development Center (FARDEC) Inc., who was abducted from her Bantayan Island home in June 2020 and was found dead at a hospital in Mandaluyong over a year later.

Read:  Abducted Cebu development worker reported dead in a Manila hospital

“We hope to gather more testimonies and materials to build up the case against the perpetrators who boasted to be police officers in committing this human rights assault,” Abarientos said in a press conference held on Jan. 16.

Karapatan-Central Visayas vowed to hold the perpetrators accountable as they also called for an end to all attacks against human rights defenders.

The UP Cebu University Student Council also led a candle-lighting activity at the UP Cebu entrance gate on Monday to pray for the added safety and protection of victims of state-sponsored disappearances, and to call for justice for the victims of the culture of impunity.

They also called to hold government institutions accountable for their inaction on the abduction of Dyan and Armand. (RTS, RVO) Reposted by (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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