Government Forces Suspected of Abducting Former University of the Philippines Students
Southeast Asia and Pacific and Human Rights Researchers
Global Human Rights Defence
Concerns have been raised by four different campuses of the University of the Philippines regarding the recent disappearances of three alumni and an activist. These incidents occurred between April and May 2023 and involve Gene Roz Jamil De Jesus and Dexter Capuyan from the Baguio campus, Patricia Cierva from the Manila campus, and activist Cedrick Casaño (Amnesty International, 2023; Chi, 2023).
There are suspicions that government forces may have abducted the former students, considering the victims’ involvement in activism (Chi, 2023). Specifically, Capuyan and De Jesus are known as indigenous rights defenders, with De Jesus working in the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP) (Velasco, 2023; Ong Ki, 2023). Eyewitnesses reported their abduction in Taytal, Philippines, where the abductors allegedly identified themselves as members of the National Police (Velasco, 2023). Cierva and Casaño, on the other hand, were allegedly taken by the 501st Infantry Brigade (Chi, 2023).
Despite official government sources claiming that they do not hold the activists in their custody, the University of the Philippines and the Commission on Human Rights are urging all law enforcement authorities to maximise their efforts in locating the missing individuals, upholding their human rights, and securing their safe return (Velasco, 2023).
Sources and further reading:
Amnesty International (2023, May 16). Philippines: Indigenous rights activists reported missing: Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus. Retrieved 5 June 2023, from https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa35/6791/2023/en/
Chi, C. (2023, May 29). Four UP campuses join call to surface missing students, alumni. Philstar. Retrieved 5 June 2023, from https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2023/05/29/2269940/four-campuses-join-call-surface-missing-students-alumni
Ong Ki, C. N. (2023, May 12). CHR asks gov’t to ‘exhaust all efforts’ to locate 2 missing activists. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 5 June 2023, from https://mb.com.ph/2023/5/11/chr-asks-gov-t-to-exhaust-all-efforts-to-locate-2-missing-activists
Velasco, R. (2023, June 5). UP urges gov’t to locate, uphold rights of missing alumni. CNN Philippines. Retrieved 5 June 2023, from https://www.cnnphilippines.com/news/2023/6/5/missing-alumni-up-.html