Abducted peasant organizer presented as NPA rebel by the military

Account of Incident:


On February 2, 2009, Karapatan-Eastern Visayas received a report that a peasant rights
advocate was missing.


Felicidad “Pidad” Caparal, organizer and disbursing officer of the peasant group UMA
(Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura or Agricultural Workers Union) left their home in
Bulacan to fetch her ailing mother in Samar. She intends to bring her mother to a doctor in
Manila.


Her husband Leon saw her off at the bus terminal on January 26, 2009 at 5:30pm. Being
vigilant, he took note of the bus’ company name, body and plate numbers. She is expected
to arrive at Allen, Samar on the afternoon of the next day.


During the whole trip, Pidad constantly updated Leon on her location thru SMS (short
message system) on her mobile phone. At around 11am of the next day (January 27),
Pidad informed her husband that she has reached Matnog, Sorsogon and their bus is about
to board the ferry. The ferry trip is no more than two hours and Leon began to worry when
he had not received any communication from Pidad after five hours. Leon contacted
Pidad’s mother, sibling and friends to help locate her whereabouts but all efforts were in
vain.

They kept trying to get through Pidad’s mobile phone which was turned off but had started
ringing again at around noontime of January 28. Pidad’s sibling from abroad and friends
likewise tried calling her number and would hear a man’s voice at the other end of the line
drowned in a noisy background.


Leon left for Samar on the 29th of January to look for his wife. He arrived in Matnog,
Sorsogon early the next day and was able to verify from the ferry boat company list that
Pidad was onboard one of their ferries bounded for Rawis. In Rawis, a dispatcher validated
that the bus she was supposed to be on arrived on Monday (Jan 26). Up until February 2,
Leon had inquired with Pidad’s relatives and friends living in other towns—Palapag,
Calbayog, Catubig, Las Navas, Catarman and Bobon, and didn’t get any clue as to where
she might be. He even sought the help of a local radio station to announce his search.
On February 4 (Wednesday), they heard over the radio that the 803rd Brigade of the Philippine
Army is announcing the capture of 3 alleged high officials of the New People’s Army
(NPA) at a press conference. The Philippine Army said that the three were nabbed at a
checkpoint set up by the 20th Infantry Battalion in Baranggay Urdaneta, Lavezares, Northern
Samar at noontime of January 27.


Among those presented was Pidad, whom they claimed to be the Education staff of the
Northern Samar Provincial Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines
(CPP). The two others were identified as Remegio Burac and Maritess Coseñas.


The military claims that they arrested Pidad and Ms. Coseñas, on the basis of an arrest warrant
issued on September 30, 2003 for multiple murder, allegedly of two soldiers killed in
an NPA ambush on December 30, 2002 in Washington Village, Catarman, Northern Samar.


The two women were reportedly detained in Dancalan Provincial Jail.


As of this writing, a human rights team from Karapatan-Eastern Visayas had set out to Dancalan
to verify her whereabouts and check on the condition of the women detainees.###