News Release
15 April 2019

Families of desaparecidos call to surface two missing youth activists

Rights group Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice) demanded the Duterte government to surface two youth activists who were reportedly abducted on Saturday morning.

According to reports by the local chapter of urban poor group Kadamay in Bulacan, one of their organizers, John Griefen Arlegui, 20, and Reynaldo Remias, Jr, 24, an organizer of youth group Anakbayan, were reportedly taken at gunpoint and whisked in a red car by armed men, believed to be elements of the 48th Infantry Battalion of the AFP, between 10 to 11 in the morning of April 13. The two were posting election campaign materials along the Angat-Pandi Highway for progressive partylist group Bayan Muna and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares.

“We demand that Arlegui and Remias be surfaced immediately. Only state forces will have the motive to abduct these young activists who are participating in activities related to the upcoming national elections,” said Erlinda Cadapan, chairperson of Desaparecidos.

Cadapan said they believe that the abduction is not merely aimed at taking away Arlegui and Remias, but also to sow fear among the people, especially the organized urban poor in the area, and who have earned the ire of the Duterte government because of their assertion of their rights.

“Taking away people in broad daylight, in open spaces where they are seen by many people, is the same old, dirty tactic they have used against desaparecidos, our loved ones who went missing under previous regimes. This is an act of cowardice of the highest kind, believing they can sow fear and terror by abduction and enforced disappearance,” said Cadapan.

Arlegui and Remias are both residents of the “occupied” housing units by Kadamay in Pandi, Bulacan. Since then, while they continued fighting for the right of the poor to decent housing, they have been subject to various attacks and threats, including harassment, illegal searches, filing of trumped-up charges, among others.

Cadapan said this is also not the first time that a person who belongs to a progressive partylist is missing under Duterte regime, all of which have been consistently vilified and red-tagged by state forces.

According to rights group Karapatan, a farmer and mountaineer tour guide in Mt. Danayag in Aurora province named Deodicto Minosa, was also reported missing on March 22. Minosa is a member of Anakpawis Partylist in San Luis, Auorra, and has been subject to harassment and threats as reported by his family. He remains missing to this day.

“Duterte’s hands are bloody with the cases of killings, illegal arrests and detention, martial law in Mindanao and now, enforced disappearance. We demand that the desaparecidos under Duterte be surfaced. We also call for public support, in the same way that many have condemned extrajudicial killings. We appeal to the public not to be silenced by the Duterte government’s use of one of the worst human rights violations ever known,” Cadapan ended. ###

Reference: Erlinda Cadapan, Desaparecidos chairperson, 0919-9880630