OFFICIALS of the Commission on Human Rights-Central Visayas (CHR 7) has initiated its own investigation on the abduction of two labor rights activists by a group of men who introduced themselves as members of the police last week.
Lawyer Arvin Odron, CHR 7 director, told SunStar Cebu on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023 that they started their own “moto proprio” investigation on Monday, Jan. 16, after members of Karapatan-Central Visayas visited their office.
Motu proprio investigations are initiatives pursued by the CHR even without formal complaints.
Odron said they are now waiting for the victims and their families to come and file complaints of human rights violations before the CHR regarding the incident.
“I instructed the investigation department to coordinate with Karapatan and get some relevant information about the personalities of the alleged victims and coordinate with them,” said Odron.
He said they are now putting more focus on securing a copy of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage relating to the incident to establish the identity of the victims and perpetrators and get the real motive behind the abduction.
Last Jan. 10, Armand Jake Dayoha, 27, and his fiancée Dyan Gumanao, 28, were forced into a vehicle by unidentified men after they disembarked from a ship at Pier 6 in Cebu City.
Dayoha is reportedly a volunteer for Alliance of Concerned Teachers, while Gumanao serves as a volunteer organizer for Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno or AMA Sugbu-KMU.
The abductors in civilian clothing reportedly identified themselves as police officers, according to Gumanao’s father, Danilo, who joined a press conference of cause-oriented groups at the University of the Philippines Cebu last Monday.
Odron described the incident as disturbing, stressing that the mandate of the government is to serve and protect its people.
“If that is true, it is so very disturbing because it is now the state actors that violate the rights of the citizens. That is if they are indeed part of the illegal abduction,” he added.
He admitted that there would be a slight difficulty in identifying the culprits considering they were all in civilian clothing.
He said they can easily identify police officers conducting their official duties if they are wearing uniform and their operations are documented.
“They will submit the operation report and post-operation report... But if the persons are not in uniform, the police will deny having participated in that alleged abduction. Then, there is a bit of difficulty,” said Odron.
Separately, the Police Regional Office-Central Visayas (PRO 7) has created its own special investigation task group (SITG) to conduct a deeper probe on the abduction of the two activists.
Col. Noel Flores, PRO 7’s deputy director for operations, will be leading the SITG together with police officials from the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, PNP Maritime Group and the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit 7.
Lt. Col. Albert Quilitorio, the SITG’s spokesperson, told reporters that they are looking into all possible angles behind the abduction.
They also plan to secure a copy of the cellphone video that captured the incident.
In a separate interview, Lt. Col. Maria Theresa Macatangay, CCPO information officer, said they were able to contact Dayoha’s mother so that they can cooperate with their investigation on her son’s abduction.
Dayoha’s mother, however, refused as her son was still resting at that time.
Macatangay, however, continues to urged the victims to visit their office and provide a testimony on the incident. (HIC, AYB / JKV)
Commission on Human Rights-Central Visayas Director Arvin Odron / Honey Cotejo
Screenshot from viral video showing the alleged abduction
January 18, 2023
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