THE Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO 7) has promised an impartial investigation on the incident involving two labor rights activists who were reportedly abducted by men who identified themselves as police officers in Cebu City last week.
Brig. Gen. Jerry Bearis, director of the PRO 7, on Monday, Jan. 16 ordered his personnel to conduct a thorough investigation on the disappearance of Armand Jake Dayoha, 27, and his fiancee Dyan Gumanao, 28, who were forced into a vehicle by unidentified men after they disembarked from a ship at Pier 6 in Cebu City on Jan. 10, 2023.
Bearis has promised transparency in their investigation as well as regular updates on the development of the case.
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 on Monday.
“Gi-blindfold sila. Unya, gituyok-tuyok sila. Gidala sila somewhere else. Gi-detain while gi-interrogate sa separate nga room. Giingnan sila nga ‘Ayaw na mog palag kay mga pulis mi,’” said Danilo.
(They were blindfolded. Then, they were misled [by their captors]. They were brought somewhere else. They were detained then interrogated in separate rooms. They were told ‘Don’t resist anymore because we are police officers.)
The alleged abduction last Jan. 10 happened in broad daylight at Pier 6 and several people witnessed it. The commotion was captured on a cellphone video, which was circulated on social media.
The unidentified men left Dayoha and Gumanao in a resort in Carmen town, northern Cebu on Sunday night, Jan. 15. Their parents fetched them on Monday morning.
Their parents believe that the two were abducted by government personnel.
Bearis said the couple’s “presence will fast-track the investigation and their blow-by-blow account of what transpired will shed light in determining the perpetrators.”
“We request their cooperation with the investigation,” he said.
Cause-oriented groups led by Karapatan Central Visayas and Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno (AMA Sugbo-KMU) condemned the incident, urging the police to ferret out the truth in their investigation.
Before the abduction happened, Dayoha and Gumanao had gone to the latter’s hometown in Mindanao to ask her parents’ blessings to get married in May 2023.
The couple boarded a ship bound for Cebu City last Jan. 10 and it was expected to dock at Pier 6 at 7 a.m.
Gumanao texted her brother at 8:10 a.m., telling him that their ship had docked in Cebu City but that they had not disembarked yet.
After that last text message, Gumanao and Dayoha were not heard from again. The couple’s parents filed a missing person report on Saturday, Jan. 14.
Dayoha’s mother, Sarah, said she thought her son had arrived home safely as the last text message she received from him was that the ship was already docked and he would go straight to work.
Sarah said she was unable to sleep well after her son failed to respond to her subsequent text messages.
After fetching her son in Carmen, Sarah said she asked him if he was fine and the latter said he was. “Kahibawo kong dili (I know that he isn’t fine),” she said.
Dennis Abarrientos of Karapatan Central Visayas said the couple was traumatized by what they had experienced.
He said unidentified individuals had been tailing Dayoha and Gumanao after they participated in a Human Rights Day protest last Dec. 10. Dayoha is reportedly a volunteer for Alliance of Concerned Teachers, while Gumanao serves as a volunteer organizer for AMA Sugbu-KMU or Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo-Kilusang Mayo Uno.
Abarrientos described the incident as disturbing as it happened in the morning.
Women rights group Gabriela said the abduction allegedly carried out by police officers is just among the many cases of human rights violations against activists in different parts of the country.
Gabriela secretary-general Clarice Palce said the group is in solidarity with Dayoha and Gumanao and their families “in their pursuit to hold their perpetrators accountable who are reported to be members of the PNP.” (AYB / TPT, HIC, KAL)