Indigenous peoples (IP) groups and advocates alongside kin of missing activists Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil ‘Bazoo’ De Jesus protested in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Court of Appeals (CA) in time for the habeas corpus hearing for Capuyan and De Jesus today, August 3.

“Matagal na ang paghihintay na ito. Matagal na naming gusto malaman kung ano ba ang kanilang kalagayan. Dahil sino man malagay sa aming pwesto ay tiyak masasaktan nang sobra. Hindi mo alam kung ano ba ang kalagayan ng ama mo, ano ba ang pinagdadaanan ng kapatid mong may sakit,” lamented Idda De Jesus-Tiongco, sister of Bazoo.

Dexter and Bazoo were last seen on the evening of April 28 in Taytay, Rizal. They have reportedly been missing since.

Dexter is a member of the Bontoc-Ibaloi-Kankanaey indigenous group and a former student leader and editor-in-chief of Outcrop at the University of the Philippines Baguio. He is then accused of being a high-ranking leader of the New People’s Army in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions with pending charges and a bounty of P2.85 million for his capture, including a P1 million reward from the provincial government of Apayao.

On the other hand, Bazoo is also an alumnus of UP Baguio and served as the information and networking officer for Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples (PTFIP).

According to PTFIP, there have been unidentified men who later introduced themselves as operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who seized the two activists and forced them into two separate vehicles.

The three-month-long grief of the families and friends of Dexter and Bazoo has only pushed them to further reverberate calls of resurfacing.

“Kayang kayang gawin ng mga pwersa ng gobyerno ang anumang porma ng abuso. Sila ang may kakayanan gumawa niyan na para sa kanila ay ito’y kapagyarihan nila,” Idda said.

The said habeas corpus hearing for Dexter and Bazoo took place today, August 3, and another on August 10 as opposed to its original schedule dated July 14 due to no show of respondents from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the denial of receiving the petition by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Accordingly, kin, supporters, and human rights groups have already visited 14 military and police facilities since May 3 in search of the Dexter and Bazoo. Only three of these offices signed the inquiry form and certified that they do not have them in their custody as provided under the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 (RA 10353)

KATRIBU national convener Beverly Longid said they are not surprised over such delaying tactics by the PNP-AFP but only showed how “rotten and evil” the state security agencies are.

“It has been very agonizing for us, especially for Dexter’s and Bazoo’s families, three months now since they disappeared. They should surface them now,” Longid added.

Various IP groups noted that enforced disappearances or desaparecidos among human rights violations have been rampant during the first year of Marcos Jr. administration, with both Dexter and Bazoo being the seventh and eighth victims of desaparecidos.

In Cordillera alone, there are already four incidents of aerial bombings on indigenous communities where around 14 bombs on each occasion have been reported.

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) noted that the gross human rights violations caused massive effects on the livelihood of residents in Apayao (2022), Kalinga (March 2023) and Abra (June 2023) while the continuing intensified militarization disrupted their everyday living.

Another rights group Karapatan has recorded around 400,000 individuals in 13 regions of the country affected by the military bombings. Almost 7,000 of these were victims under Marcos Jr. administration

Also, last June 7, four activists from the Cordillera Peoples Alliance including Windel Bolinget, Sarah Alikes, Jennifer Awingan, and Steve Tauli were designated as terrorists by the Anti-Terrorism Council under the Anti-Terror Law. This came only a few months after their names were removed from a rebellion case alongside the quashed warrants filed against them.

CHRA slammed Marcos Jr. in yet another absence of updates on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“Marcos Jr.’s speech shows how the state willingly turns a blind eye to the people’s rights. Actually, we did not expect this to turn up in his speech as he tries to cover up his and the previous administration’s grave record of human rights violations against the indigenous and Filipino people,” said CHRA.

“The state is sound for the state itself- the Marcoses, Dutertes, their cronies, and their forces as they utilize all means they can to silence and stifle legal dissent and clamor of the people for basic services and needs,” the rights group added.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here