AN INVESTIGATION is underway on the recent abduction of two activists in broad daylight at a Cebu port, including the possible involvement of cops in the crime, the Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson said on Tuesday.
“The Cebu City police office is currently coordinating with the families of the missing activists,” PNP Spokesperson Jean S. Fajardo told a televised briefing in Filipino.
The two, Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha, were reported missing on Jan. 10 and their families announced on Monday that they have returned home.
Authorities are also looking into the possibility of cops being involved in the incident, Ms. Fajardo noted.
“However, it remains difficult to gather evidence on the incident since the two individuals did not talk to many witnesses during the time of their abduction,” Ms. Fajardo said.
On Monday, a video of the alleged abduction incident at the port taken from an overhead view was shared on social media, and rights groups had raised concerns about the safety of the two activists.
Family members of the two activists said in a news briefing that the captors introduced themselves as policemen.
“Why did this happen to them? They don’t deserve this,” Danilo Gumanao, Ms. Gumanao’s father said. “If my daughter and Armand violated some laws, then why not arrest them and file charges against them.”
Dennis Abarrientos, spokesperson of human rights group Karapatan, told the same briefing that the activists were blindfolded after being forcibly taken and possibly tortured.
“The abduction of Gumanao and Dahoya is an emblematic case that is testament to the gross violations that union organizers experience in the country,” Cristina E. Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said in a tweet on Monday.
She said the International Labor Organization should look into the abduction as a team of its official are set to visit the country this month.
The government should not stay silent on the cases of violence against activists as it adds to the culture of impunity in the Philippines, Renato M. Reyes, Jr., secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), an alliance of left-wing organizations, said in a tweet.
He also called on the Cebu Port Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard to look into the incident.
“We call on our countrymen to continue providing local police with information on these criminal activities and we hope to continue our campaign against criminality to ensure the safety of the country,” Ms. Fajardo said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez