Following the abductions of Gene de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan on April 28, 2023, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has denied allegations that they are responsible for the enforced disappearances of the two Cordillera activists. De Jesus and Capuyan have been considered missing since they were last seen in Taytay, Rizal. Both families suspect state security forces are behind the abductions.
According to a witness, the two human rights defenders were forced into two different vehicles by men claiming to be members of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) before they disappeared without a trace. On July 10, 2023, a Court of Appeals (COA) granted the petition for habeas corpus filed by the families of the two victims. However, the PNP and the military (Armed Forces of the Philippines/AFP) denied any involvement in the disappearance of the two activists after pursuing the court order (Habeas Corpus) for comment.
The Christian Student Movement of the Philippines has documented at least 21 cases of enforced disappearances of activists by state security forces since President Marcos took office. However, many victims, such as De Jesus and Capuyan, remain missing. In his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Marcos proclaimed an improved human rights situation in the Philippines. However, this does not match with reports, such as from the human rights watchdog CIVICUS, that rates civil society space under the Marcos administration as “repressive.”
Photo © Raffy Lerma