Pat’s story is among the many stories of student activists who, despite the continuing threats and harassment by state forces, have been persistent to struggle and fight back at the expense of people’s basic human rights.
Her friends and colleagues would always remember her saying that there is an abundance of reasons to continue, to persevere on why we fight.
Now, Pat as well as her companion Cedric Casaño were abducted by the military of the 501st Infantry Brigade last May 16 in Brgy. Gonzaga, Cagayan. They have been missing since.
Who is Pat Cierva?
Patricia Nicole Cierva, fondly known by her colleagues as Pat, is a long-time activist, student leader and alumna at the University of the Philippines Manila. As a developmental studies major, Pat is keen to engage with her fellow peers and lead various pro-student campaigns to advance academic freedom.
Her dedication to organizing students made an impact on many, recalling her as a woman with an angelic face and voice but with the sharpest mind whenever delivering principled speeches in mass protests.
Pat became the councilor for the UP Manila College of Arts and Sciences Student Council (UPM-CASSC) and later in the University Student Council (UPM-USC) for National and Local Issues. She also became the secretary-general for KASAMA sa UP, a system-wide alliance of student councils in the university.
Further, Pat also became the chairperson for Kabataan Partylist – UP Manila from 2016 up to 2019 and was also elected to be the incumbent chairperson for Kabataan Partylist National Capital Region in 2018.
As a student leader, she brought light to issues such as the scrapping of the return of service agreement (RSA), the opposing of the revival of the Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), budget cuts, K-12 curriculum, among various sectoral and socio-economic campaigns.
Pat was also the one to call for the refunding of tuition fees paid by students in the first year of the implementation of the Free Tuition Law or the Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education. She also led campaigns such as Tulong Kabataan at Kalinaw for the indigenous people and the Lumad among others.
Kate Gotis, a colleague of Pat in the student council and KPL NCR, recalled her tireless persuasion and humility whenever doing room-to-room campaigns, and spearheading educational discussions, and meetings.
“Kahanga-hanga si Pat kasi yung gagawin namin nun magmomob kami, uuwi sa hq tapos mag-aaral pa siya after. Kahit hatinggabi na iyan, maghahanap siya ng time para makapag-acads pa rin,” Kate shared.
[Pat is remarkable because whenever we went to mobilizations and go back to our headquarters, she would still find time for her academics even if it was midnight]
Kate also noted that while Pat has a condominium unit, she chose to stay with them in their small headquarters office. She also recalled funny memories and lines of Pat, that after a such tiring day with not enough money for transportation and Pat would often say “Kasya pa yan sa isang pandesal”.
[It is still enough to purchase pandesal]
Pat’s passion for educating, mobilizing, as well as integrating people led to her staunch affirmation to serve youth and peasant workers in the Cagayan Valley region since 2019 at the time when she was rendering her practicum service.
“Si Pat ay isang aktibista, isa siyang mahusay na aktibista na mula nang makapasok siya ng UPM hanggang sa pinili niyang lumabas at pumunta sa kanayunan, pumunta at piniling makipamuhay sa mga magsasaka sa ibang sektor ay doon ko nalaman na hindi lang hindi ordinaryong estudyante si Pat. Isa siyang marangal na aktibista,” Kate added.
[Pat is an activist, she is an activist that from the time she entered UPM until she chose to go to the countryside, chose to live with farmers and other sectors, that’s when I learned that Pat is not just an ordinary student. She is a principled activist]
Pat and Cedric are the latest and among the 21 activists victim of enforced disappearances or desaparecidos since Marcos Jr. sat in power. Their arrest also came barely a month after the disappearances of activists in UP Baguio alumni Bazoo De Jesus and Dexter Capuyan.
Why continue to fight?
“Pat and Cedrick’s apparent abduction are tell-tale signs of a rising authoritarian rule. Should their captors find that they have erred in their actions, they nevertheless reserve the right to due process,” KPL NCR said in a statement.
Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) documented that there are at least 21 cases of desaparecidos since the Marcos-Duterte administration. According to SCMP national spokesperson Kej Andres, these are utterly disturbing and horrifying.
The following are the names of those abducted in the 11 months of the Marcos-Duterte administration.
- Ma. Elena Pampoza, Elgene Mungcal (July 3);
- Stephen Tauli (August 20);
- Cherilyn Rebita, Jackilyn Egtob (August 26);
- Aurily Havana, Jennifer Binungkasan (November 3);
- Dyan Gumanao, Armand Dayoha (January 10);
- Ariel Badiang (February 6);
- Leonardo Sermona, Jr. (March 16);
- Rogelio Posadas, “Ka Mikmik”, Renel delos Santos, Denald Mailen (April 19);
- Mary Joyce Lizada, Arnulfo Aumentado (April 24);
- Gene Roz “Bazoo” de Jesus, Dexter Capuyan (April 28);
- Patricia Cierva, Cedrick Casaño (May 16)
SCMP noted several desaparecidos suffered different fates.
“Tauli was found a day after. NDFP Consultant Posadas and his companion “Ka Mikmik” were killed. Rebita and Egtob were NPA members who suffered torture, including holding hostage Rebita’s infant daughter—violations of International Humanitarian Law,” said SCMP in a statement.
On January 16, Gumanao and Dayoha surfaced ten days after their capture. Their abduction had been recorded and posted online where the couple were forced into a vehicle by armed men. The couple was abandoned by their abductors in a resort in Carmen town, 41 kilometers north of Cebu City.
KPL NCR said these recent events are reminiscent of the 77 desaparecidos and 35,000 documented victims of torture under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
“Lest we forget, and lest another desaparecido is added to the list, we must remind ourselves and those in power that dissent is essential to democracy. And lest we forget, activism is not—and should never be—a crime,” KPL NCR added.
League of Filipino Students National Capital Region (LFS-NCR) also slammed the Marcos-Duterte administration backed by the United States and military cohorts including the 501st IB which abducted Pat and Cedric.
LFS-NCR noted Cagayan, where Pat and Cedric were abducted, have developments of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) sites specifically in Naval Base Camilo Osias and Lal-lo Airport.
“The 501st Infantry Battalion is only but state lapdogs subservient to the US-Marcos Duterte regime. The abduction of Pat and Cedric is a manifestation of their atrocities most especially when Cagaynons themselves express anger and condemnation against EDCA and foreign power control,” said LFS NCR spokesperson Ysabelle Briones.
It must be noted that last April 17, thousands of Cagayanons joined in candle lighting and patriotic community singing to protest against EDCA bases in their province.
University of the Philippines Manila also released a statement urging all government agencies to adhere to the basic tenets of democracy.
“We believe that our democracy, won through decades of activism and patriotism, can only be practiced to the fullest when the basic human rights of every Filipino are respected and protected, and these rights include individual safety, dignity, and freedom of speech,” the university said.
UPM further condemned the continued red-tagging, threats, and other acts against UP teachers, students, alumni, and employees.