Group calls for surfacing of IP rights defender, companion

Izzy Lee, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2023 04:37 PM | Updated as of May 04 2023 10:55 PM

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MANILA — The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance on Thursday expressed concern over the safety of two people feared to be under the custody of state agents.

Indigenous peoples' rights defender Gene Roz Jamil De Jesus and his companion Dexter Capuyan have been reported missing since April 28.

CHRA spokesperson Casselle Ton said the pair's last known location was in Rizal where Capuyan sought medical treatment.

De Jesus, a resident of Bulacan, is the information and networking officer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples' Rights.

Capuyan, who is from La Trinidad, Benguet, is accused of being a New People's Army leader operating in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions, with a P1.8 million bounty for his arrest.

Ton said her group believes state security units have De Jesus and Capuyan in custody, citing past disappearance of activists.

"We still continue the search. We still continue (to ask) the public and government officials and the Commission on Human Rights to help us surface these two," she told ANC's "Rundown".

De Jesus' mother, Dittz, also asked for the public's help in locating her son. She is an overseas Filipino worker in Italy.

"Umaasa po kami sa tulong ng masa na sana mailabas ang aming anak na buhay at safe," she said.

Barangay Dolores in Taytay, Rizal has confirmed that the sister of De Jesus filed a blotter report.

"I advised to blotter kasi three days nang nawawala. Within 24 hours dapat ay na-report na nila sa pulis," barangay captain Roy Tapawan said.

The family of Capuyan visited the barangay on May 4 to also file a blotter report about Dexter's disappearance.

The Taytay Municipal Police Station stated that De Jesus' sister reported his disappearance on May 2, but did not file a missing person's report.

Taytay's acting chief of police, P/Maj. Joel Custodio, said in a text message to ABS-CBN that they are open to assisting the relatives should their help is sought.

"Taytay PNP is willing to assist. And upon learning the simple details, I have instructed the investigators to look into the CCTV camera of SM Taytay," Custodio said in a text statement.