Karapatan slams inutility of Anti-Desaparecido Law as 2 activists go missing

Human rights alliance Karapatan slammed the Marcos Jr. regime’s contempt for the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10353, also known as the Anti-Desaparecido Law) even as it expressed its utmost concern for the welfare and safety of two activists who had gone missing since the evening of April 28, 2023.

Dexter Capuyan and his companion, indigenous people‚Äôs rights advocate Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus, were reportedly in Taytay, Rizal when they were able to contact their families for the last time. Capuyan was a former Cordillera-based activist while de Jesus is a staff of the Philippine Task Force on Indigenous Peoples Rights (TFIP), a network of NGOs focusing on the rights of indigenous peoples in the Philippines to their ancestral land.

Their families and colleagues, with the assistance of human rights groups and lawyers, have filed blotter and/or incident reports with concerned barangay and police officials in Taytay, Rizal, Taytay Police Station, and PNP Rizal Office.

They have gone to following to check if military or police units in the following have the custody of the two: Camp General Mateo Capinpin (headquarters of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army) in Tanay, Rizal; to Camp Vicente Lim (headquarters of PNP Regional Office-IVA) in Calamba, Laguna; to the offices in Camp Crame (headquarters of the PNP) in Quezon City; to Camp Aguinaldo (general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) in Quezon City; and to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency in Quezon City.

Unfortunately, none of the police or military units have accomplished the forms provided by the family and their paralegal team and lawyers as per Republic Act No. 10353 or the anti-enforced disappearance act, nor have provided information on their whereabouts. Under the said law, government agencies, especially those in the security sector, should provide necessary assistance to inquiring parties.

Capuyan and de Jesus are the seventh and eighth persons involuntarily disappeared under the Marcos Jr. regime. The others are Gabriela activists Ma. Elena Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal, NPA members Aurily Havana and Jennifer Binungkasan, NDFP consultant Ariel Badiang and Negros peasant organizer Leonardo Sermona.

Karapatan also took umbrage at a wanted poster of alleged “communist terrorist group personalities” and the bounties offered for their capture dead or alive. Dexter Capuyan’s photo is on the poster circulated by the Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government which contains the pictures of 81 persons, with bounties ranging from P150,000 to P10 million.

Capuyan, a Bontoc-Ibaloi-Kankanaey is listed with a P1.85 million-bounty, rendering him vulnerable to harm by those intent on collecting the bounty.

So far, three persons on the wanted poster have gone missing, while five have been arrested. Aside from Capuyan, the other missing persons on the list are NDFP consultants Leo Velasco (missing since February 19, 2017) and Prudencio Calubid (missing since June 26, 2006). Those arrested and currently detained are Evelyn Munoz, Evangeline Rapanut, Rosita Serrano, Adora Faye de Vera and Eric Jun Casilao.

Families of Capuyan and de Jesus are very worried that they may have been abducted and detained by State forces for their activism. Worse, the families are concerned for their loved ones’ safety, fearing that they may be extrajudicially killed like other activists who had first been reported as involuntarily disappeared.

We call on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an urgent investigation on the disappearance of Dexter Capuyan and Bazoo de Jesus. We are racing against time, hoping to locate the two safe and alive, and reconciled with their worried families.

If State authorities cannot justify the continuing detention of these two activists, they must be released immediately and their captors held liable under the Anti-Desaparecido Law. Under this law, the crime of involuntary disappearance is punishable by life imprisonment.