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Rights groups call on Marcos to order state forces to surface 4 missing activists

Karapatan said it is "seriously concerned" that the missing activists will suffer "similar violations" experienced by development worker Elena Tijamo

Human rights group Karapatan on Wednesday, July 20, called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to order state forces to surface four missing activists, the latest in the cases of enforced disappearances in the country.

The four disappeared activists were identified as Elizabeth Magbanua and Alipio Juat, reported missing since May 3, 2022; and Elgene Mungcal and Ma. Elena Cortez Pampoza, last seen on July 3, 2022.

“We are urging the Commission on Human Rights and other agencies, local or international, to look into the evidence and accounts that some of the missing were taken to a military camp,” read a statement from Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

Palabay said her group is “seriously concerned” that the missing activists will suffer “similar violations” experienced by development worker Elena Tijamo, who, after being abducted in front of her family and remained missing for more than a year, was found in a hospital dead.

“We deplore these latest incidents of the armed forces’ dirty war against activists and members of progressive organizations,” said Isabel Batralo, vice chairperson of the group Desaparecidos.

Karapatan said Magbanua is a long-time member of Gabriela, while Juat is an organizer of labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno. Mungcal and Pampoza are organizers of Gabriela Women’s Party and Anakpawis, respectively.

“The disappearances of Magbanua, Juat, Mungcal and Pampoza are testament that rights violations, including abductions and enforced disappearances, continue,” said Palabay.

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“There is no significant change in the policy of Marcos Jr. especially on human rights, aside from the fact that this dictator’s son has not acknowledged the sins and crimes of his father during martial law,” said the human rights activist.

The families of the four disappeared activists have asked for help from the Commission on Human Rights.

Among the four, Juat, a long-time unionist and labor union organizer, is a survivor of Marcos’ martial law. Mungcal, on the other hand, was arrested and detained months ago on charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. She was released on bail.

Relatives of Juat said that the missing activist, who was last seen in Valenzuela City, had told them he was taken to Camp Aguinaldo; he also said that he didn’t know the whereabouts of his companion, Magbanua.

There were no reported communications with Mungcal and Pampoza since they were last seen in Moncada, Tarlac; their phones have been turned off since.

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