Karapatan urges CA anew: issue writ of habeas corpus and surface Steve Abua now as wife files MR

Human rights alliance Karapatan reasserted calls to surface abducted peasant organizer Steve Abua as his wife Johanna filed her motion of reconsideration today, urging the Court of Appeals anew to grant her petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus after her petition was junked in a decision dated March 29, 2022.

“It has been 166 days since Steve Abua was abducted — and every single day that he remains missing is a merciless form of torture for his family. The circumstances of his abduction clearly point to the military as the perpetrators of this abduction, and we plead on the Court of Appeals: help us surface Steve and issue the writ of habeas corpus now,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Abua was last seen in the afternoon of November 6, 2021 in a commercial area in Lubao, Pampanga. He was supposed to travel to Dinalupihan, Bataan to attend a meeting with farmers but he never reached his destination. Abua’s family only learned he was missing on the following day when an unidentified individual called Johanna using Abua’s phone and told her that he was under their custody.

The caller threatened Johanna that she would never see Abua again should she inform anyone of her husband’s abduction as the caller urged her to “help” them in convincing him to “return to the fold” and cooperate with the government in order to extract information from him. The caller made a brief video call later that day as they showed Abua blindfolded and gagged while hands were also tied.

Palabay asserted that “not only was Steve abducted: he was clearly tortured, and the threats sent to Johanna red-tagging Steve evidently indicate that his abductors are State forces, or at the very least working for them as part of counterinsurgency operations. Despite laws penalizing the perpetrators of torture and enforced disappearances, they continue to use the same tactics with impunity.”

Johanna filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus last December 7, 2021, and named respondents in the petition were 17 officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, including regional and provincial officials in Central Luzon. The Office of the Solicitor General opposed the petition, which was eventually junked by the Court of Appeals.

“The pain of not knowing whether your husband is still alive or already dead is a pain no one should suffer. Let us not add a burden to their pain. We call on the Court of Appeals to stand for justice and people’s rights by issuing the writ of habeas corpus immediately. We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to assert the call to surface Steve Abua now,” the Karapatan official ended.