1 peasant leader arrested, 2 youth organizers disappeared

“We call on the Filipino people, be vigilant. Uphold basic human rights for all.”


MANILA – Various groups have assailed recent reports of human rights violations, with the arrest of an elderly activist in Bohol and the enforced disappearance of two young community organizers in Cagayan Valley.

In a statement, human rights group Karapatan said elderly activist Adolfo Salas Sr. was arrested in his home in Bohol yesterday, May 25.

Salas, 75, is one of the founders of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL-KMP) and currently the vice chair of the Alayon sa mga Mag-uuma sa Candijay (AMACAN-HUMABOL-KMP).

He was reportedly arrested by combined elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) and non-uniformed armed men between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. at his home in barangay Tubod, Candijay, Bohol.

According to the witnesses, non-uniformed men planted .45 cal pistol, .38 cal revolver, hand grenade and various types of ammunition that authorities later claimed to have been allegedly found in Salas’s possession.

He was brought to Camp Francisco Dagohoy in Tagbilaran City.

Prior to his arrest, Karapatan said that Salas’s family reported being subjected to harassment.

“They are very worried that the elderly activist’s health may further deteriorate under harsh conditions of detention and appealed for his release,” Karapatan said in a statement.

Karapatan-Central Visayas meanwhle said that the arrest of Salas “follows a disturbing pattern and scripted narrative employed by the CIDG, PNP, and AFP in the arrest of other peasant leaders in Bohol, such as Carmelo Tabada and Pastor Nathaniel Valiente last June 25, 2021.”

Read: Farmers’ group concerned over midnight arrests in Bohol

Karapatan called for the immediate release Salas as well as other activists “unjustly detained and slapped with trumped-up charges in Bohol and other areas nationwide.”

‘Surface Cedric and Patricia’

Meanwhile in Cagayan Valley, two youth peasant organizers, Cedric Casano and Patricia Nicole Cierva , were disappeared, following reports that they were captured by members of the 501st Infantry Brigade last May 16 in barangay Cabiraoan, Gonzaga, Cagayan.

Karapatan-Cagayan Valley said they learned of their disappearance after receiving reports from concerned citizens.

“Friends and former colleagues are concerned for their safety under the hands of the AFP that declares it will crash the revolutionary movement in the northeastern part of Luzon by all means. We wish to remind the AFP that even wars have rules of engagement,” Karapatan-Cagayan Valley said.

Peasant advocacy group NNARA-Youth also expressed their concern over the disappearance of the two youth organizers.

“The abduction of Casaño and Cierva is part of the escalating attacks in Northern Luzon, where it occurred less than a month after the illegal abduction and unlawful detention of indigenous peoples organizers Mary Joyce Lizada and Arnulfo Aumentado, who are still being held at Camp Capinpin, and the abduction of Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil ‘Bazoo’ de Jesus, who have yet to be surfaced,” said NNARA-Youth National Spokesperson Marina Cavan.

Environmental groups also called for the surfacing of the two young peasant organizers.

“Patricia worked with the Kabataan Partylist-National Capital Region, a legislative partner of our colleagues at the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment. Cedric was a youth whose environmentalist principles led him to join the staunch opposition against the irresponsible open-pit mining at the Didipio gold and copper mine of the OceanaGold Corporation and magnetite mining in the coastal Cagayan Valley. This led him to become a delegate of the International People’s Conference on Mining 2015,” the Environmental Defenders Congress said in a statement.

As a UP-Manila student, Cierva led campaigns such as Tulong Kabataan at Kalinaw for the indigenous people and the Lumad among others.

Karapatan-Cagayan Valley called on the authorities to respect the right to due process and immediately sSurface Cierva and Casano.

“We call on the Filipino people, be vigilant. Uphold basic human rights for all,” the group said in a statement. (JJE) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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