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URGENT ALERT Philippines: 2 IP rights defenders illegally detained, 2 others missing

On April 24, two organizers from BALATIK (Bond and Strength of Indigenous Peoples in Southern Tagalog), Mary Joyce Lizada and Arnulfo Aumentado, went missing while doing field work in relation to a series of shelling by the Philippine Military in Oriental Mindoro, an island 7 hours away from Manila. Days after they went missing, and after the clamor to surface them, the Philippine Military presented them as captured rebel fighters of the New Peoples’ Army. Lizada and Aumentado were transported by sea to Rizal, hours away from where they were nabbed. 

Just a few days later, also in Rizal, Bazoo De Jesus, a staff at the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, and Dexter Capuyan, a Bontoc-Ibaloi-Kankanaey went missing. Their families have lost contact with them at around 9PM on the 28th April. The military and police accuse Dexter as a leader of the New People’s Army rebel group. The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance believes that state security units are keeping the two and fear for their safety. We express grave concerns over the series of arrests and terrorist-tagging of Indigenous Peoples and advocates who chose to serve the marginalized. We call for the full respect of their rights including the strict observance of their right to due processes.

We join the call of our Philippines members in urging the government, the police and the state military to immediately release Mary Joyce Lizada and Arnulfo Aumentado, and to surface Bazoo De Jesus and Dexter Capuyan. 

We call on our network, allies, and friends to share this news widely and inform peoples of the world about the grave Indigenous Peoples rights situation in the Philippines. Reference:

Romeo Jara

Communications Officer, International IPMSDL

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