Human rights group Karapatan said that Dex and Bazoo are the seventh and eighth persons involuntarily disappeared under Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Families of missing activists Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus appealed to the public May 1 to help find their loved ones who reportedly went missing since April 28.
Capuyan and De Jesus were reportedly in Taytay, Rizal when their families last heard of them.
Capuyan was a former Cordillera-based activist while de Jesus is a staff of the Philippine Task Force on Indigenous Peoples Rights (TFIP), a network of non-government organizations focusing on the rights of indigenous peoples in the Philippines to their ancestral land.
“They say, a mother loses half her life when she loses her child. But I will give the other half of my life just to find my son,” Mercedita, mother of De Jesus, said in Filipino.
Mercedita arrived on Monday from Italy where she and her husband work as overseas Filipino workers.
“I know my son, he is not a terrorist. He is an activist fighting for the rights and welfare not only of the youth and students, but also of indigenous peoples,” she added.
Despite their distance from their son, she said that their communication was constant and they have remained intact as a family.
Beverly Longid of Katribu said both families of de Jesus and Capuyan, together with Cordillera Human Rights Alliance and other groups, have initiated several efforts to search and locate them since May 2. Initially, she said, they filed a blotter in the village in Taytay as well as with the police headquarters in the area.
Longid also said they have searched military camps like Camp Capinpin, Camp Vicente Lim, Camp Crame, Camp Aguinaldo, the office of Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).
“Unfortunately, these units and agencies have refused or failed to accomplish the forms we brought for them to certify that they do not have them in custody or in detention in their facilities,” Longid said.
In their search, Longid said they were able to gather information that men matching the description of Capuyan and Bazoo were taken by unidentified men using at least three vehicles, introducing themselves as operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
“We also gathered information that days before their abduction, unfamiliar individuals, who we also strongly suspect as state agents, were around the vicinity of the place of their abduction,” Longid added.
She said that as they join the families in appealing to the public to help them find Capuyan and de Jesus, they also warn the military, police and state agents “to desist from any actions that will intimidate whoever will come forward to assist us further to locate and surface Dexter and Bazoo.”
“Our only concern is for Dexter and Bazoo to be surfaced as soon as possible,” Longid added.
Serving the people
De Jesus described her son as a student who frequently received medals of excellence. When he was in college at the University of the Philippines in Baguio, De Jesus said Bazoo joined different organizations and became a student leader. But despite many extracurricular activities, Bazoo was able to graduate cum laude with a Journalism degree, Mercedita said.
“We saw how he was well loved by the UP-Baguio. After his graduation speech, leaders of the employees union approached us and said ‘You are fortunate that you have a son like Haji. He is a genuine servant of the nation,’” Mercedita recalled.
Meanwhile, Capuyan was described by his younger brother, Eli, as someone who is a truly caring and kind person.
“We went to the same elementary school, he would always check on me and help me in whatever I need. The same as when we were in high school, he was always with me during enrollment because our parents were busy with their work. He always took care of me,” Eli said.
At school, Eli described his brother as someone who was sociable and a “crush ng bayan”. In college, Capuyan has extended his care to the students of his school and started to become part of the youth movement.
“He became a very passionate student activist and this has led him to help more people, such as the workers and the indigenous people of Cordillera,” Eli said.
Capuyan was also the former editor-in-chief of UP-Baguio’s student publication, Outcrop. He also formed the first League of Filipino Students in UP-Baguio.
“Our father was offering him to study law and become a lawyer so that he can continue helping those in need. But he did not do it. He continued to provide help directly to those who are in need, helping them find solutions to their problems,” Eli said.
“He continued and never gave up. He gave up on what could have been a beautiful and normal life, but he really wanted to help,” Eli said.
Eli expressed his concern on the welfare of his brother.
“It is difficult that we do not know where he is or what his situation is. I think about his welfare when I eat, and I wonder if he has eaten too. Or is he able to take rest or sleep soundly at night?” he said.
Mercedita said that they will not stop searching for Bazoo and Capuyan.
She added that they will remain strong because it is only what they can offer now.
“I will not cry because I know there is hope that we will see him once again, we can hug and kiss him once again,” she said.
Caselle Ton, spokesperson for the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, said this was the third case of abduction of activists and human rights defenders in Cordillera.
James Balao was abducted and went missing on Sept. 17, 2008 after years of threats and vilification. Stephen Tauli, the regional council member of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance was also abducted on Aug. 20, 2022 but was released by his captors a day after. His abductors forced him to turn into a government spy and tried to force him to confirm fellow activists’ alleged links with revolutionary groups.
Read: Court Links Arroyo, State Forces to Abduction of Activist
Read:Anti-dam activist’s abductors wanted him to turn gov’t spy
Ton said colleagues and friends of Capuyan and Bazoo in Baguio City also visited Camp Allen and Camp Dangwa and sought for a dialogue.
Eight people missing under Marcos Jr.
Meanwhile, human rights group Karapatan said that Capuyan and Bazoo are the seventh and eighth persons involuntarily disappeared under Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.
The others are Gabriela activists Ma. Elena Pampoza and Elgene Mungcal, New People’s Army members Aurily Havana and Jennifer Binungkasan, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Ariel Badiang, and Negros peasant organizer Leonardo Sermona.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, expressed frustration over the non-cooperation of the military and police in implementing the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Act of 2012.
“This has always been the modus, people are abducted by suspected state agents because of the work that they do. And when you go searching to government agencies, which is in the law, they are always dismissive,” Palabay said.
She said that under the law, every unit is mandated to produce a report or a confirmatory document on the whereabouts of the victim and immediately issue a certification in writing to those who are inquiring. Palabay said that under the law, it does not have to be the relatives. Under Section 8 of the law, it can be the lawyer, the media, human rights organizations, and even a representative.
Palabay also asked the Commission on Human Rights to exercise its powers, which is also under the law, in inspecting the camps or safe houses to help the families in searching for the missing individuals.
Palabay also slammed the list of supposedly wanted persons posted by the Philippine National Police Regional Office 5 where Capuyan was included.
The wanted poster bears the names and faces of alleged “communist terrorist group personalities” and the bounties offered for their capture, dead or alive.
Capuyan’s photo is on the poster, which also contains the pictures of 81 other individuals, with bounties ranging from P150,000 ($2,693) to P10 million ($179,534).
Capuyan, a Bontoc-Ibaloi-Kankanaey, is listed with a P1.85 ($33,213) million-bounty, rendering him vulnerable to harm by those intent on collecting the bounty.
Karapatan said that so far, three persons on the wanted poster have gone missing, while five have been arrested.
Aside from Capuyan, the other missing persons on the list are NDFP consultants Leo Velasco, who has been missing since Feb. 19, 2017, and Prudencio Calubid, missing since June 26, 2006.
Those arrested and currently detained are Evelyn Munoz, Evangeline Rapanut, Rosita Serrano, Adora Faye de Vera, and Eric Jun Casilao.
Although disappearances and other human rights violations happen with every administration, the worst was during the martial law years of the father of Marcos Jr., the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., 1,600 people. While some surfaced alive, many were found dead, and still many others continue to be missing. Of those who were disappeared during Marcos Sr’s term are student activist Rizalina Ilagan and Ma. Leticia Pascual-Ladlad. (RTS, RVO)