By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — A human rights group in the Cordillera, with families and friends, are appealing to the government to surface two missing individuals they believe are being held by law enforcement authorities.
“We express deep concern for the safety and well-being of Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil De Jesus,” said Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) in a May 3 urgent alert.
Capuyan, 56, has been tagged as a ranking leader of the New People’s Army’s Chadli Mmolintas Command operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions.
De Jesus is the information and networking officer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples, a network organizations and institutions promoting indigenous peoples’ rights.
“We believe that state security units have them in custody and fear for their safety and well-being. We urge whoever holds them to surface them immediately, respect their rights and treat them humanely,” the group added.
CHRA said the last reported contact from their peers was on April 28, 9:00 PM, somewhere in Taytay, Rizal. De Jesus, last communicated at 7:36 PM, according to his mother’s social media post.
“This is very hard for our family. We have been deeply worried for several days now. We try our best to face all these despite our pain. We hope to see the light in our search.” De Jesus’ mother, Ditz said in Filipino in the post.
Capuyan, an Bontoc-Kankanaey-Ibaloi from La Trinidad, Benguet, was in Rizal to seek medical attention according to his family. It was not clear, however, what he was doing with De Jesus when they went missing.
CHRA and their families are appealing for public support to locate them and ascertain their situation.
Capuyan is among the individuals named in the list of alleged leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army released by the Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government. Authorities are offering a P1.85 million bounty for his arrest for two counts of murder lodged at the Branch 35 of the Regional Trial Court in Bontoc, Mountain Province.
He was among the more than 600 individuals named in the Department of Justice petition to proscribe the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization. His name was removed when state prosecutors trimmed the number of respondents to eight. The court junked the petition in September last year.
His name was also implicated in the February 2015 NPA ambush against a military and police convoy in Quirino, Ilocos Sur, resulting in five soldiers’ deaths and wounding six others.
The two were former University of the Philippines Baguio students.
Capuyan was a BA Social Sciences student. He served as the editor-in-chief of the student publication, Outcrop and the League of Filipino Students chairperson in the early 1980s.
A friend and contemporary in college, who asked to remain anonymous, described him as “a charismatic leader.”
“He was the everybody’s crush (crush ng bayan). Aside from his leadership skills and being articulate, he can also write, sing and play the guitar. He was always happy, smiling and playful,” his one-time partymate in student politics recalled in mix English and Filipino.
Capuyan’s friend added that they also admired him because “despite coming from a prominent family and upper middle-class family, he lived simply.”
Meanwhile, De Jesus, a BA Communication Major in Journalism cumlaude, was the chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Students and the UP Baguio Council of Leaders before graduating in 2016. He also served as the Cordillera regional coordinator of the National Union of Students of the Philippines.
Leia Castro-Margate, a former instructor of De Jesus in UP Baguio, described him as a “good writer.”
“He was the kind of student you would be proud of as a teacher, didn’t neglect his studies while still serving the people outside school work. He is not just as activist for show but someone who walks the talk,” she said in an online interview.