PNP denies involvement in alleged abduction of Cebu-based activists

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2023 11:32 AM | Updated as of Jan 17 2023 08:03 PM

Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha. Courtesy of Karapatan-Central Visayas
Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha. Courtesy of Karapatan-Central Visayas

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday denied involvement in the alleged abduction of development workers Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha in the port of Cebu City.

The families of the pair claimed they were arrested by men who identified themselves as police officers.

"It's not the policy of the police to just do these things. What we do is we arrest people after we have found evidence against them then we charged them in court. That is how our criminal justice system works," Central Visayas police spokesperson Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare said.

"The PNP is not involved in this particular case and the fact that the 2 victims are now safe could really help us investigate [and] really know what happened in this case," he told ANC's "Rundown".

The Police Regional Office 7 has "ordered an impartial, thorough and swift investigation regarding the incident and all the agencies involved," Pelare said.

The Philippine Coast Guard and the local police initially denied there was a commotion at the port at the time of the supposed abduction, according to Dennis Abarrientos, spokesperson of rights group Karapatan-Central Visayas.

But a video released by the group showed Gumanao and Dayoha allegedly being shoved inside a van at the port after they arrived from Cagayan de Oro on Jan. 10.

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'HARASSED, RED-TAGGED'

According to Pelare, Gumanao was previously arrested for violation of the Public Assembly Act. 

She was among 8 protesters who were arrested during an anti-terror bill rally in June 2020.

"Other than that, we have not found any reason that the police or any other individuals would arrest these 2 victims," he said.

In an ANC interview, Karapatan's Abarrientos said the pair had reportedly been harassed and red-tagged before the alleged abduction.

"Before this, Dyan and Armand [have] already been a subject of a series of harassment [and] red-tagging," he said. "Right after protest actions at political activities, sinusundan sila (they were being followed) with the purpose of harassing them."

Gumanao and Dayoha were found at a resort in Carmen town, north of Cebu, on Jan. 16 where they were left by their supposed abductors.

Abarrientos said they were looking into the possibility that Gumanao and Dayoha were tortured.

The pair were blindfolded and interrogated in separate rooms, he said.

The group is mulling filing charges against authorities for supposed "inaction" over the incident.

Gumanao and Dayoha are both graduates and lecturers at the University of the Philippines Cebu.

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In a public briefing, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said it was difficult to find evidence on the incident because the area where Gumanao and Dayoha were found did not have any surveillance camera. 

Local police is closely coordinating with the victims' families on the matter, noted Fajardo, vowing to look into the allegations that cops may be involved in the abduction. 

"Medyo nahihirapan po tayong humanap ng mga ebidensiya dahil nga po doon sa area nga po na kung saan napabalitang huling nakita ay wala po silang masyadong nakausap po na witness, bagama’t tayo po ay nag-reach out na po sa pamilya nga po nitong 2 bata," she said. 

(It's hard to find evidence because it was hard to look for witnesses in the area where they were found. We have reached out to their families.)

"Kasama po iyan at bahagi po iyan ng ating gagawing investigation. Dahil kung makikita po natin iyong mga kumakalat po na video ay mga naka-civilian po itong mga tao na allegedly ay responsable sa pagkakawala nitong dalawang bata," she added.

(That is part of our investigation. We can see in the viral videos that these kidnappers were wearing civilian clothes.)

— With a report from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News