ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-043 -2014

25 March 2014
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PHILIPPINES : Disappearance of a peasant leader after his arrest by persons claiming to be agents of the National Bureau Investigation

ISSUES: Disappearance; human rights defenders
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you about the disappearance of a peasant leader in Isabela. The victim was arrested by persons that introduce themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation on February 28, 2014 and his whereabouts remain unknown.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights -KARAPATAN-)

On 28 February 2014, Romulo Dela Cruz, an active member of peasant group Agbiag-Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti Isabela (Agbiag-Dagami), a local peasant organisation, attended the wedding of his son, Romy, in a mass wedding ceremony in Roxas town, Isabela.

At11:30 am, Dela Cruz boarded his motorcycle in order to return to his village in Matusalem village, Roxas, together with Julie Danga, one of the wedding sponsors. The newlyweds, aboard another motorcycle, followed behind them.

On their way back, upon reaching Barangay Nueva Era in San Manuel town, a gray van without a plate number blocked their path. A man, whose face was covered with a handkerchief, alighted from the van and pulled the handlebars of Dela Cruz’s motorcycle sideways. Dela Cruz and his passenger fell to the ground. The man grabbed Dela Cruz by the neck and pointed a handgun to his head.

Danga asked the men what they wanted and one of them replied they were members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Dela Cruz appealed to them not to hurt his companions and said that he would go with them voluntarily. Danga cried and shouted for help.

The man pushed Dela Cruz inside the van. Six other men armed with rifles were inside the van which then drove off towards the national highway.

Romy and his relatives, with the assistance of AMA-RI members, immediately reported the abduction of Romulo dela Cruz to the San Manuel Police Station. The police inspected the site of the incident and declared that the case was outside their jurisdiction.

However, the police took the statements from Danga and Romy. During Romy’s interview, the police asked about his father’s work with Dagami. A police officer once again told Romy that the case was not within their jurisdiction simply because Dagami, allegedly, has “several rival organizations.”

Romulo Dela Cruz and his organisation, Agbiag-Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti Isabela (Agbiag-Dagami) is known to have opposed land grabbers in Roxas town.

As at the time of writing, Romulo Dela Cruz’s whereabouts remain unknown.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights defenders and will also inform the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).

To support this appeal, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-043-2014

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Disappearance of a peasant leader after his arrest by persons claiming to be agents of the National Bureau Investigation

Name of disappeared victim: Romulo Dela Cruz, 42 years old. He is a farmer and resident of Barangay Matusalem, municipality of Roxas , Isabela. He is a member of Agbiag Matusalem Association-Roxas Isabela (AMA-RI), an association of residents of Matusalem village, Roxas town. AMA-RI is a member organization of Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti (Dagami), an alliance of peasant organizations in Cagayan Valley .
Alleged Perpetrators: Unidentified men who identified themselves as agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
Date of incident: 28 February 2014
Place of incident: Nueva Era village, San Manuel municipality, Isabela province

I am writing to raise my serious concern regarding the disappearance Romulo Dela Cruz. On 28 February 2014, Romulo Dela Cruz, an active member of peasant group Agbiag-Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti Isabela (Agbiag-Dagami), a local peasant organisation, attended the wedding of his son, Romy, in a mass wedding ceremony in Roxas town, Isabela.

At 11:30 am, Dela Cruz boarded his motorcycle in order to return to his village in Matusalem village, Roxas, together with Julie Danga, one of the wedding sponsors. The newlyweds, aboard another motorcycle, followed behind them.

I have learned that on their way back, upon reaching Barangay Nueva Era in San Manuel town, a gray van without a plate number blocked their path. A man, whose face was covered with a handkerchief, alighted from the van and pulled the handlebars of Dela Cruz’s motorcycle sideways. Dela Cruz and his passenger fell to the ground. The man grabbed Dela Cruz by the neck and pointed a handgun to his head.

I am informed that Danga asked the men what they wanted and one of them replied they were members of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Dela Cruz appealed to them not to hurt his companions and said that he would go with them voluntarily. Danga cried and shouted for help.

The man pushed Dela Cruz inside the van. Six other men armed with rifles were inside the van which then drove off towards the national highway.

Romy and his relatives, with the assistance of AMA-RI members, immediately reported the abduction of Romulo dela Cruz to the San Manuel Police Station. The police inspected the site of the incident and declared that the case was outside their jurisdiction.

However, the police took the statements from Danga and Romy. During Romy’s interview, the police asked about his father’s work with Dagami. A police officer once again told Romy that the case was not within their jurisdiction simply because Dagami, allegedly, has “several rival organizations.”

Romulo Dela Cruz and his organisation, Agbiag-Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti Isabela (Agbiag-Dagami) is known to have opposed land grabbers in Roxas town.

As at the time of writing, Romulo Dela Cruz’s whereabouts remain unknown. I urge you to exhaust all means to locate the whereabouts of the victim. I also request you to ensure that his family is kept properly informed and involved in any inquiry or intervention done in his case.

I especially ask that the allegations that the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the government’s special investigation body under the authority of the Department of Justice (DoJ), could have been involved in his disappearance be taken seriously.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in this.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Police Director Alan LM Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City , Philippines
Fax +632 7248763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

5. Atty. Virgilio L. Mendez
Director
NBI Building Taft Avenue ,
Ermita, 1000 Manila
PHILIPPINES
E-mail: director@nbi.gov.ph
Fax: +63 2 5256895

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines

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