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Groups alarmed over rising cases of forced disappearances under Marcos Jr

Human rights groups trooped the Manila Court of Appeals calling to surface missing activists in commemoration of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance last 30 August. Led by the group Desaparacidos (organization of families and friends of the disappeared), families and friends of victims sounded alarm over the increasing cases of enforced disappearances under the Marcos administration.

Last 2 September, two environmental activists, Jonila Castro, 21, and Jhed Tamano, 22, were abducted in front of the Orion Water District office in Orion, Bataan by four unidentified persons in a grey vehicle according to reports. Castro is a community organizer from AKAP Ka Manila Bay (Citizen Alliance to Defend Manila Bay) and Jhed Tamano is a coordinator of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum for the Community and Church Program in Manila Bay. The two are missing to this day.

The two were preparing for relief operations and consultations with the communities of Bataan when they were abducted.  Both Castro and Tamano were active in the fight against the destructive projects on Manila Bay that threaten the environment and livelihood of communities. They had been experiencing intimidation and harassment before their disappearance.

The two are the 12th and 13th victims of enforced disappearance since Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. fraudulently rose to power. According to Karapatan, this figure is more than half of the number of the disappeared during the time of Duterte. There were 20 recorded disappeared during Duterte’s administration.

The disappearance occurred a few days after the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, last August 30. 

Prior to this, Indigenous Peoples’ rights defenders Gene Roz Jamil “Bazoo” de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan went missing last 28 April in a suspected abduction by state security forces. 

“As four months have passed without any news on the condition of Bazoo and Manong Dexter, our plea continues that they be surfaced, their whereabouts be known soonest,” said Idda de Jesus, sister of Gene Roz De Jesus. 

Isabel Batralo, vice chairperson of Desaparecidos said, “Our strength and determination mirror the struggles faced by numerous families across the nation who persistently seek answers regarding their missing loved ones.” Batralo’s brother, Cesar, a peasant organizer, went missing in 2006, in a wave of abductions perpetrated under the regime of Gloria Arroyo.

“The act of enforced disappearances is a heinous crime and is inherently unjust. For families of the disappeared, justice remains elusive, which is why we persist in our fight,” Batralo ended.