Clamor to surface 2 missing Cordillera activists grows
BAGUIO CITY—More than 50 members of Cordillera-based progressive groups and supporters of missing activists Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan staged a protest here on Thursday to call for the safe return of the two men who disappeared on April 28 in Taytay, Rizal.
De Jesus, 27, and Capuyan, 56, both graduates and former student leaders of the University of the Philippines Baguio, were reported missing by their families who lost contact with them at around 9 p.m. on April 28.
De Jesus, a resident of Bulacan province, works for the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, while Capuyan is an activist-leader in Benguet province and had been accused by the military of being a New People’s Army (NPA) leader.
Relatives of De Jesus said he left their house to meet someone but gave no details. Capuyan was in Rizal for a medical checkup.
At the rally, Jeoff Larua, secretary general of Tongtongan ti Umili-Cordillera Peoples Alliance and a close friend of De Jesus, said they feared for the safety of the two men, as they suspected they were taken by state forces because of their activism.
“People being abducted is continuous, the disappearance of individuals who push for principles is continuous… The violations of their rights are continuous, so we are scared of what may happen to them,” added Louise Montenegro, spokesperson for Kabataan Party list-Cordillera and another close friend of De Jesus, in an interview Thursday.
Abby Tauli, sister of Capuyan, called on those who took her brother to treat him humanely.
“We demand that you treat them as humanely as you want to be treated,” she said in a Facebook post. “My family took good care of Dexter’s well-being and reared him to be caring, nobody has the right to treat him harshly.”
Capuyan was previously tagged by the military as a leader of the Chadli Molintas Command of the NPA in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions, with a P1.85 million bounty for his arrest. He was one of over 600 persons included in the Department of Justice petition to proscribe the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the NPA, as terrorist organizations, but his name was later removed from the list.
The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance said in a statement that the accusations against Capuyan led them to believe that state forces currently have De Jesus and Capuyan in their custody, and they “fear for their safety and well-being.”