3 UP campuses join clamor to surface missing activists
BAGUIO CITY – Three campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP) joined the growing clamor for the safe return of missing indigenous peoples’ rights activists Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus, who went missing on April 28 in Taytay, Rizal.
Capuyan, 56, and De Jesus, 27, both former students of UP Baguio, were allegedly abducted by men who introduced themselves as operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), according to witnesses.
But CIDG had previously denied any involvement in the incident.
“We urge all government and concerned agencies, specifically those that have already been approached by the families of Bazoo and Dexter, to exhaust all means and resources to fully address their disappearance,” UP Baguio said in a statement on Wednesday.
De Jesus graduated cum laude when he earned his communication degree in 2016, while Capuyan was a former editor in chief of Outcrop, UP Baguio’s official student publication.
Human rights advocates believe that the two are in government custody, noting that the police and military accused Capuyan of being a ranking officer of the Chadli Molintas Command of the New People’s Army operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions and having a P1.85-million bounty on his head.
In separate statements on Tuesday, UP Cebu and UP Visayas likened the disappearance of Capuyan and De Jesus to the abduction of activists and UP Cebu alumni Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha in Cebu City in January. Gumanao and Dayoha were later found after their captors abandoned them in Carmen, Cebu.
“A society is never truly free if its activists and critics are subjected to constant harassment and must fear for their safety,” the statement from UP Visayas read.
‘Pattern of injustice’
“We call on our partners from all relevant agencies of government to help end this pattern of injustice…,” it added.
UP Cebu Chancellor Leo Malagar described the pattern of harassment of activists as “unsettling.”
“Enforced disappearances achieve nothing more than the erosion of the fabric of a democratic society. Silencing critics doesn’t support the aims of mainstream society; it only weakens our democracy,” Malagar said in a statement.
Since Capuyan and De Jesus’ disappearance, a series of protests in Baguio and in the Philippine National Police Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, on May 15 were staged by their families and supporters to demand their release.
A prayer vigil and a solidarity gathering were also held at UP Baguio on Tuesday.
At the UP Baguio vigil, De Jesus’ mother, Mercedita, said: “Losing a child is not a joke. So, I hope the people who abducted them feel the lament of a mother and a child, that is Gabrielle (Capuyan’s daughter).”
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