On October 2, Elena Tijamo was laid to rest in Kapingganon Catholic Cemetery in Bantayan Island, days after her remains were obtained by her family.
Tijamo was missing or considered disappeared for over a year. Suspected state forces abducted her on June 13 last year from her home in Bantayan Island, during curfew hours amid strict lockdown at the height of the pandemic in the province. A family member got a call from a certaint “Michael” on August 28 this year that Tijamo was soon to be discharged at a hospital in Mandaluyong City. But at the hospital, they were told that Tijamo had died of a goiter operation.
Her remains were then brought to St. Peter’s Funeral Homes without the knowledge or consent of the family, and the family had difficulty retrieving her remains as another person had lodged and registered her body to the funeral parlor. The body was registered in a death certificate under a certain “Ava Perez Reyes.”
The release of Tijamo’s remains was put on hold even despite evidence that positively identified her and the family members of Tijamo identifying themselves.
After a month, her body was at last transported to Cebu for her family to be able to have a proper burial.
In a statement released by Farmers Development Center (FARDEC) officer-in-charge Marianne Tagalo, the organization stated that the return of Elena is a battle for justice. She also called for a quick but fair investigation on the circumstances surrounding Tijamo’s abduction and death.
Harassment at the wake
On September 30, a police officer and a member of the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) of Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) abruptly arrived at Tijamo’s wake, took pictures with Tijamo’s sister without her consent and insisted to have an interview with her, even when the family did not ask for an investigation from the AKG.
Karapatan-Central Visayas strongly condemned the incident stating that it was a clear means to harass the family who was mourning and that before inviting for an interview, the family must have the time to consult with their legal counsel first.
Adding that the unexpected visit of AKG personnel caused distress to the family as they already expressed their wish to have time to grieve.
The AKG had been contacting the family ever since Tijamo’s remains was at the funeral parlor in Quezon City.
Tijamo was a peasant advocate and the coordinator of Sustainable Agriculture Program Coordinator of FARDEC.