Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima expressed alarm over reports of missing peace consultants who were allegedly abducted in separate incidents in Davao del Norte this March.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, joined calls from the human rights community in urging authorities and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to thoroughly investigate these incidents and help search for the missing personalities.
“It’s been roughly a month since two peace consultants and their companions went missing in Davao and we have yet to hear any leads or updates about their disappearance,” she said, citing news reports.
“Nakakabahala ang ganitong mga insidente lalo na sa mga pamilyang araw-araw na nag-aabang ng balita, nangangamba at nag-aalala. Magigising na lang ba tayong ganito madalas ang nababasa at naririnig natin?” she added.
According to human rights group Karapatan, Ezequiel Daguman, 50, and his companion have been missing since the afternoon of March 7 while they were en route to a peasant community in one of the banana plantations in New Corella, Davao del Norte. Both were supposed to look into the situation of workers and farmers in the area.
Edwin Alcid and his two companions, for their part, were allegedly accosted by soldiers on March 8 in Catubig, Northern Samar.
Reportedly, all five have yet to be found as of this writing.
De Lima, a former CHR Chairperson, said these kinds of disappearances should not be ignored, “lest we want more disappearances involving peace consultants, human rights defenders and social workers to happen.”
“Pabalik na naman ba tayo sa panahon ng mga ‘desaparecidos’? Kailanman, hindi pwedeng manahimik at magkibit-balikat na lang sa ganitong mga insidente; hindi pwedeng maging normal ang ganitong mga pagkawala, at kultura ng kawalang pananagutan sa ating bansa,” she said.
“Ganito na ang nasaksihan natin sa nakalipas na anim na taon ng gobyerno ni Duterte. Hindi na natin ito dapat maatim at hayaan pang mangyari sa susunod na anim na taon ng papalit na liderato,” she added.
Reportedly, since Duterte’s unilateral termination of peace talks in 2017, there has been a series of arrests and killings of peace consultants. (30)