UP Manila, rights groups demand surfacing of two activists
MANILA, Philippines — The disappearance of a pair of Cagayan-based activists drew an outcry from rights groups and the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), the alma mater of one of the two community organizers allegedly “captured alive” by government forces on May 18.
Expressing deep concern for its alumna Patricia Cierva and her fellow activist Cedric Casaño, UPM, in a statement on Saturday, called on their captors to release the two, urging all government agencies to “adhere to the basic tenets of democracy.”
“We believe that our democracy, won through decades of activism and patriotism, can only be practiced to the fullest when the basic human rights of every Filipino is respected and protected, and these rights include individual safety, dignity, and freedom of speech,” the UPM administration said.
The university called for “the surfacing of not just Cierva and Casaño but of all those who were wrongly taken and arrested.”
Cierva graduated with a degree in development studies from the UPM College of Arts and Sciences. She was a member of the student council and secretary general of Kasama sa UP.
‘Rules of engagement’
According to Karapatan, Casaño and Cierva were taken by members of the 501st Infantry Brigade in Gonzaga town in Cagayan.
The rights group said “even wars have rules of engagement.”
Ecumenical youth group Student Christian Movement of the Philippines said Cierva and Casaño were the 20th and 21st activists allegedly taken by state forces under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Their disappearance came less than a month after activists Gene Roz “Bazoo” de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan went missing in Taytay town in Rizal province on April 28.