In a statement issued on January 24, 2023, the AMP condemned the recent abduction of 28-year-old development worker Dyan Gumanao and 27-year-old labor rights activist Armand Dayoha in Cebu City.
On January 10, 2023, Gumanao and Dayoha were forcibly abducted in broad daylight by alleged state security forces in Cebu City. The two were reported missing by their families on January 13 when they had not heard from them. A video of the incident was provided to the victims’ families by a concerned citizen after news of the missing activists circulated on the internet. It shows that several witnesses observed the two being forced into a vehicle by plainclothes men in the port of Cebu City.
Presumably, strong public pressure and the combined efforts of various organizations contributed to the release of Gumanao and Dayoha on the night of January 15, 2023, in Carmen Town, North Cebu. Both were found physically unharmed but traumatized. The two stated that the kidnappers identified themselves as police officers. They also said that they were blindfolded, held without contact with the outside world, and interrogated separately. According to the activists, the kidnappers wanted to gain knowledge about their links to the communist insurgency.
Dyan Gumanao is a long-time staff member and coordinator at Community Empowerment Resource Network, Inc. (CERNET), a partner organization of an AMP member. She also volunteers with the Alliance of Concerned Teachers. Her partner, Armand Dayoha, is a labor rights organizer at Alyansa sa Mamumuo sa Sugbo (AMA Sugbo) and coordinator of the Alliance of Health Workers. Dayoha also works as Program Coordinator at Visayas Human Development Agency, Inc (VIHDA), a partner organization of an AMP member.
Prior to their abduction, both were already being monitored, harassed, and threatened by security forces. Gumanao was among the so-called “Cebu 8” – eight activists who protested against the government’s pandemic measures on June 5, 2020, and were then arrested. They were shadowed by suspected security forces after joining protest to commemorate the Mendiola Massacre on January 22, 2021.
After the abduction, the two activists approached the Central Visayas 7 Commission on Human Rights (CHR7) to file a formal complaint. The CHR7 pointed to Section 7 of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, which requires people to disclose information on abductions and disappearances to help resolve the cases. Moreover, the CHR7 called enforced disappearances a “serious human rights violation” and therefore urged law enforcement agencies of the Philippine government to immediately address this case.
A Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) of the Cebu City Police is assigned to investigate the case.
Photo © Raffy Lerma