KARAPATAN denounces enforced disappearance of activist-writer in Zamboanga Sibugay

KARAPATAN condemns the forced disappearance of activist-writer Nelson Bautista and the illegal arrest of his companion Ademar Etol on trumped-up charges.

Bautista, 45 and Etol, 64, were arrested in Barangay Balingasan, Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay by police forces who barged into the house they were staying at around 2 a.m. of January 25, 2024.

Bautista has not been heard of since the arrest and remains missing to date. He is the 14th victim of enforced disappearance under the Marcos Jr. regime. Etol, who faces multiple trumped-up charges, including one for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition based on evidence planted by the police, is currently detained at the Siay Municipal Police Station.

Bautista was a campus journalist at the Notre Dame College in Kidapawan City and chaired the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in North Cotabato in 2004. He was also a convenor of Kalampag, an alliance of church people and civic groups in the same province. He later became a campaign officer and writer in Davao City for the Kilusang Mayo Uno. Since 2009, he has been a peasant and Lumad organizer, helping farmers, settlers and indigenous people cope with, and resist, the destruction of their environment due to climate crisis-induced disasters and large-scale mining operations.

KARAPATAN joins Bautista’s family, colleagues and friends in their urgent call to surface him. We further call on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate Bautista’s abduction and disappearance and Etol’s illegal arrest and detention, ensuring that the victims attain justice and the perpetrators are held to account.

Unless the persistent climate of impunity is shattered, Bautista and Etol will not be the last victims of state-perpetuated violence under the Marcos Jr. regime. KARAPATAN demands a stop to these relentless attacks on activists and on the people’s human rights.