Karapatan decries another abduction case in Negros, one found dead

Photo from NNARA-Youth

September 19, 2023

In what is rapidly becoming a sinister pattern, two individuals were abducted on September 15, 2023 by suspected State agents in Negros Occidental.

A Facebook post by Negros alternative media outfit Paghimutad reported that Bea Lopez, a 26-year-old peasant organizer and resident of Sitio Langud, Brgy. Camalandaan, Cauayan, Negros Occidental; and tricycle driver Peter Agravante, a resident of Sitio Tagnok, Brgy. Gil Montilla, Sipalay City were seized in Sipalay at around 10 a.m. They were reportedly on the way to Brgy. Gil Montilla when they were accosted by masked and armed men in a white van who forced them into the vehicle. The tricycle the victims were riding was also taken and loaded at the back of a pick-up vehicle.

On September 17, Agravante’s body was found in a cliff in Barangay Nagbo-alao, Basay, Negros Oriental. His wrists were bound with rope and his eyes, mouth and ankles bound in duct tape. He had a gunshot wound to the head. Witnesses said that at around midnight of September 16, a white pick-up truck stopped at the area and threw something by the wayside.

Lopez is among the latest victims in a string of abductions and disappearances under the Marcos Jr. regime.

Their abduction comes barely two weeks after that of environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano who were reported seized in Orion, Bataan on September 2, 2023. Pictures of Castro and Tamano were shown to the media on September 15 in a press conference organized by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) but the two remain in military custody despite appeals by Jonila’s mother Roselie Castro for her daughter’s release. Contrary to numerous eyewitness accounts of the abduction, the NTF-ELCAC is making dubious claims that Jonila and Jhed voluntarily surrendered.

Karapatan condemns the growing cases of abductions, enforced disappearances, and forced surrenders, making these as notorious markers of human rights violations under the Marcos Jr. regime. Surface Bea Lopez! Justice for Peter Agravante! Surface all desaparecidos! Justice for all victims of extrajudicial killing!

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General