2 men allegedly abducted by armed men in Batangas, says rights group
LUCENA CITY — Two volunteers assisting displaced workers were abducted on March 26 by unidentified armed men in Balayan town in Batangas province, a human rights group said on Tuesday, March 28.
The rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog said they received a report that unidentified armed men abducted around 3 p.m. on Sunday Alfred Manalo and Lloyd Descallar, volunteers from Sugarfolks Unity for Genuine Agricultural Reform (Sugar)-Batangas.
“They were last seen outside the Medical Center-Western Batangas in Balayan,” Karapatan said in a statement posted on their Facebook page on Monday.
However, the Batangas police office have no report of the abduction of two men in Balayan from March 25 to 27.
But Balayan police reported the abduction around 4 p.m. on March 26 of Angelito Balitostos, 67, a plumber, in Barangay Lanatan. The victim’s relatives reported to the police that armed men in a car abducted Balitostos.
According to Karapatan, Manalo and Descallar were in Balayan to conduct consultation among the sugarcane workers affected by the closure of Central Azucarera Don Pedro Incorporated (CADPI).
Karapatan strongly denounced the “barbaric act that endangers the lives of farmers and activists, who are pushing for genuine social change.”
The group noted that since the start of their campaign to assist the planters, members of Sugar-Batangas “have faced a series of harassment, vilification, and red-tagging.”
Red tagging is associating an individual or organization as a supporter or connected to the communist movement.
The human rights group called on the Commission on Human Rights to immediately conduct an investigation to help locate Manalo and Descallar and ensure their safety.
On Dec. 15, 2022, the Central Azucarera de Don Pedro Inc. (CADPI), one of Luzon’s largest producers of raw sugar, filed for permanent closure after facing operational and financial difficulties.
The shutdown affected 10,980 hectares of sugarcane land and bankrupted 4,584 sugarcane planters, according to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
CADPI workers and supporters have been protesting and demanding immediate assistance from the company and the government.
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