Peasant leader abducted, remains missing in Isabela province, Philippines

Case:    Enforced disappearance

Romulo Dela CruzVictim/s:    ROMULO DELA CRUZ, 42 years old

  • Farmer and resident of Barangay Matusalem, municipality of Roxas, Isabela
  • Member of Agbiag Matusalem Association-Roxas Isabela (AMA-RI), an association of residents of Matusalem village, Roxas town. AMA-RI is a member organization of Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti (Dagami), an alliance of peasant organizations in Cagayan Valley

Place of Incident:    Nueva Era village, San Manuel municipality, Isabela province

Date of Incident:    February 28, 2014

Alleged Perpetrator(s):    Unidentified men who claimed to be agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)

Account of the Incident:

On February 28, 2014, Romulo Dela Cruz attended the wedding of his son, Romy, in a mass wedding ceremony in Roxas town, At around 11:30 a.m., Dela Cruz boarded his motorcycle and made his way back to his village in Barangay Matusalem, Roxas, together with with Julie Danga, one of the wedding sponsors. The newlyweds, aboard another motorcycle, were behind them.

When they reached Brgy. Nueva Era in San Manuel town, a gray van without a plate number blocked their path. A man, whose face was covered with a handkerchief, alighted from the van and pulled the handlebar of Dela Cruz’s motorcycle sideways. Dela Cruz and his passenger fell to the ground. The man grabbed Dela Cruz by the neck and pointed a small gun to his head.

Danga asked the men what they wanted. The man told her he is a member of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Dela Cruz appealed not to hurt his companions, saying he will go with them voluntarily. Danga cried and shouted for help.

The man pushed Dela Cruz inside the van. Six other men, with long firearms, were inside the van. The van quickly drove towards the national highway.

Romy and his relatives, with the assistance of AMA-RI members, immediately reported the abduction of Romulo dela Cruz to the San Manuel police station. The police inspected the site of the incident and declared that the case is outside their jurisdiction.

The police also took the statements of Danga and Romy. During Romy’s interview, the police asked about his father’s work with Dagami. A police again told Romy the case is not within their jurisdiction simply because Dagami, allegedly, has “several rival organizations.”

Romulo Dela Cruz is an active member of peasant group Agbiag-Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti Isabela (Agbiag-Dagami). He is known to have opposed land grabbers in Roxas town.

As of writing, Romulo Dela Cruz’s whereabouts is still unknown.

UA Date:    March 12, 2014

 

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

  • The immediate surfacing of farmer Romulo Dela Cruz and 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 that will look into his abduction and enforced disappearance.
    The end to the policy of labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
  • The withdrawal of Oplan Bayanihan, the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency programthat victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
  • The Philippine Government to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory to.

 

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-1908
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com

Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com

 

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