Hold abductors of Cebu union organizers accountable under anti-enforced disappearance law – Karapatan

QUEZON CITY — “State security forces, from the regional to the national level, should be held accountable for the abduction and disappearance of Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha, under the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, as they expressed support for the couple’s call for justice on their ordeal.

Palabay said that the Philippine National Police, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are complicit in the abduction and disappearance of the two union organizers and development workers.

“Aside from the brazenness of the abduction, the PNP in a number of interviews denied that an incident of abduction happened at the Cebu port, and were unresponsive to the family’s pleas for assistance as soon as they went missing. This indifference and inaction should be taken into account as their case is to be investigated,” said Palabay.

Republic Act 10353, or the law penalizing enforced disappearance, underlines command responsibility in cases of abductions and enforced disappearances, stating that the immediate commanding officer of the unit concerned, whether the AFP or the PNP, shall be held liable as principal to the crime.

“They do not seem to be alarmed when Gumanao and Dayoha recounted that those who took them introduced themselves as policemen, and even went as far as blaming the two for not cooperating with the police,” said Palabay.

The law also states that “if commanding officers did not take preventive or coercive action either before, during of after its commission, when he or she has the authority to prevent or investigate allegations of enforced or involuntary disappearance but failed to prevent or investigate such allegations, whether deliberately or due to negligence, shall also be held liable as principal.”

Palabay also pointed out that it seems that not only the local or provincial state forces are involved in the abduction of Gumanao and Dayoha.

“It is apparent, from the manner and sequence of events pertaining to the abduction of Gumanao and Dayoha, that this is not just a localized abduction, but an inter-regional operation that involves many units and commands of the AFP and PNP, including their intelligence operatives. Their abduction turns out as the ulterior motive in the series of harassment and surveillance they have experienced in previous years, under the policy of red-tagging and forced surrenders that is widely implemented nationwide by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict,” explained Palabay.

Gumanao and Dayoha recounted that their abductors told them that they are part of a so-called “task force,” and that their objective was for the two to cooperate and return to the fold of the government.

Karapatan said that the abduction of Gumanao and Dayoha speaks as testament to the continuing attacks against union organizers and development workers, and victims of enforced disappearances under the current administration.

“We reiterate again and again that Gumanao and Dayoha are living proof that enforced disappearances continue, one of the worst human rights violations committed by state security forces. Enforced disappearances is a continuing crime, and Marcos Jr. as commander-in-chief of the state security forces, is accountable for the continued disappearance, and absence of justice and worse impunity, despite the existence of laws and harsh penalties on perpetrators,” said Palabay.

Two other victims of enforced disappearances under Marcos Jr. remain missing, Elgene Mungcal and Ma. Elena Cortez Pampoza, whose last contact with families and co-workers were on July 3, 2022, while in Tarlac.

Gumanao and Dayoha are in Manila, where they presented their testimony as survivors of abduction and enforced disappearance, before the ILO High-Level Tripartite Mission. Gumanao spoke in behalf of her partner, Dayoha, as well as the hundreds of victims of enforced disappearance, many of them remain missing to this day. #