Mayo 10, 2007

PHILIPPINES: Forcible abduction and enforced disappearance

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) deeply regrets to inform you the cases regarding the forcible abduction and subsequent disappearance of five more persons, including a mother of two-month-old twins, in separate incidents in March and April 2007. The whereabouts of the victims, namely Josephine Nogoy (32) of Tarlac, Alan Bumanglag of Cagayan, Jonas Joseph Burgos and his companion Melissa Reyes and another person (name unknown) of Quezon City, all in Luzon areas, have remained unknown. All of the victims were either members or have been closely involved in helping peasant groups prior to their abduction.


The information below are gathered from various sources, including the Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights (Karapatan), a human rights group based in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

At 1:00am on March 27, unidentified armed men onboard two separate vans had arrived at the house of Josephine Nogoy's sister-in-law Divina Guevarra in Purok Masagana, Iba Village, San Jose. One of the vans is black in color while the other is dark brown or maroon. The vans did not bear any license plates with them. The perpetrators numbering around 15 were armed. They were wearing black long sleeves, bonnets and gloves and combat shoes, when they forced their selves in into the house split into two groups where the victim was visiting.

One group, which is composed of eight of men, forced their selves and started threatening by pointing their guns at Divina, her husband and their two children. The others were searching for something inside the house. Upon seeing Nogoy inside, they then forcibly took her into a van waiting outside the house at gunpoint. The armed men sped away taking Nogoy with them. Nogoy's twin children were left behind the Guevarras custody.

At the time of incident, Nogoy was with her twin children visiting the Guevarras family. Not only the perpetrators did forced their selves into the Guevarras the other groups who are companies of those who took Nogoy likewise entered into the nearby house of Patricio family, the Guevarras neighbour. They also threatened and pointed guns at those inside the house asking for the whereabouts of Josephine.

In another incident, another victim Alan Bumanglag (age around in his 40s), a member of Kagimungan, the local chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Cagayan, was also reported to have been abducted and disappeared on April 26. Prior to his disappearance, the soldiers attached to the 17th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army allegedly took him inside their camp located in Tanglagan, Gattaran, Cagayan for questioning. He was interrogated for several hours and was only allowed leave there at around 2:00pm. It is reported, however, that three men were reportedly seen following him from the military camp. His whereabouts have been unknown since then.

Two days later in Metro Manila, on 28 April, three more persons were reportedly disappeared after they were allegedly forcibly abducted. According to the information, Jonas Joseph Burgos failed to arrive at their home as he was expected. He already informed his family that he is on his way to home and that he was just somewhere in SM North Edsa by sending SMS message. It was found out later that Burgos, who was with his companion Melissa Reyes and an unnamed person, could no longer be located.

Burgos had promised to arrive at his family's place at around 6:00pm. Although his family kept sending text messages to his mobile phone to ask his whereabouts for all through the night, the family received a message from his mobile at 10:46am on the following morning on April 29 saying: "Sensya na, ligo lang" (I'm sorry, was just taking a bath).

The exchange of text messages continued with the victim's family trying to find out about his condition but the supposed reply from the victims did not make any sense. And when his family called him up, though they were able to speak with him but his voice sounded like he was drugged and his answers are not clear. His family continued on checking him through SMS messages and by calling his mobile phone occasionally. His phone however was off from that whole night until the following morning, April 30.

The family of Burgos' companion Reyes', have likewise reported that she also failed to come home since April 28 evening.

At the time of incident, Burgos, who is a graduate of agriculture from the Benguet State University, had been giving agricultural technology training for members of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB), a chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) for past nine years. The AMB and KMP are peasant organizations lobbying for the solution of agrarian issues in Central Luzon. Prior to Burgos' disappearance, several leaders and members of the AMB have already been victims of either killings or abductions allegedly committed by security forces in the past.

Burgos is the son of the late Jose "Joe" Burgos Jr., former publisher and editor of the We Forum and Malaya newspapers. The late elder Burgos’ publications are the pioneering alternative press during the Marcos regime. The elder Burgos was also an awarded journalist, a widely known civil libertarian and defender of press freedom until he died in 2003.

As of May 5, various sources reported about the abduction of Burgos, and conveying disappointments of his family about delay in the process of police investigation into disappearance of the victim. The victim's brother, Jose Luis "JL" Burgos, told the media that they have yet received any information on the progress of investigation and the victim’s whereabouts from the authorities. The clue that the police have had so far is the license plate number of the car that was used to take the victims away.

According to the victim's mother, Edith Burgos, they have received further information from several witnesses of her son's abduction. Edith claimed having received a phone call from a man who told her that he should speak to a security guard at another shopping mall where her son was also seen. There has not been made substantial progress so far regarding the victim’s whereabouts.


Please write letters to the concerned authorities requesting for their immediate intervention to effectively investigate in determining the whereabouts of these disappeared victims. The authorities must also ensure that the victims' relatives are actively involved in this process. They must also consider providing protection and security for them if necessary.

Once again, please also renew calls to the Philippine government, in particular the Congress to enact the proposed law which considers acts of enforced disappearance as a criminal offence without delay. The enactment of the bill is an initial step and one of the many ways to ensure that cases of disappearance are properly investigated, adequate compensation and protection are afforded to the victims and their families, amongst others.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Suggested letter:

Dear ________,

PHILIPPINES: Forcible abduction and disappearance of five persons including a mother of two-month-old twin

Case 1:
Name of disappeared victim: Josephine Nogoy (32), a resident of Talaga village, San Jose, Tarlac. She has two-month old twins.
Alleged Perpetrators: Unidentified armed men believed to be military elements
Place of incident: Masagana Zone, Iba village, San Jose town, Tarlac
Date of incident: At around 1:00am on 27 March 2007

Case 2:
Name of disappeared victim: Alan Bumanglag, a member of a peasant group Kagimungan
Alleged perpetrators: Unidentified men believed to have links with the military
Place of incident: In Tanglagan, Gattaran, Cagayan close to the camp of 17th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army
Date of incident: 26 April 2007

Case 3:
Name of disappeared victims:
1. Jonas Joseph Burgos (38), a resident of Tandang Sora, Quezon City. He has one child. He was the Trainor of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB or Peasants Alliance in Bulacan)
2. Melissa Reyes, a mother of four children
3. Still to be identified male companion
Alleged perpetrators: Unidentified men
Place of incident: At the vicinity of Shoe Mart (SM) North Edsa, Quezon City
Date of incident: At around 6:00pm on 28 April 2007

I am writing to draw your attention to the alleged forcible abduction and subsequent disappearance of five persons, including a mother of two-month-old twins, in separate incidents in March and April 2007. I have learned that the whereabouts of victims Josephine Nogoy (32) of Tarlac, Alan Bumanglag of Cagayan, Jonas Joseph Burgos of Quezon City and his two companions, Melisa Reyes and another person (name unknown), all in Luzon areas, have remained unknown.

On March 27, Nogoy was forcibly abducted by armed men while visiting her sister-in-law's house in Tarlac. She was with her two-month-old-twin when the perpetrators forcibly took her. On April 26, Bumanglag was allegedly abducted following his release from a military camp of the 17th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, where he was subjected for questioning. On April 28, Jonas Joseph Burgos and his companions, Melissa Reyes and another unnamed person, were reportedly forcibly abducted at the vicinity of a mall in Quezon City.

I am extremely shocked and completely disappointed by the disappearances that took place within a short span of period. I therefore urge you to exhaust all means to ensure these cases are properly and effectively investigated. Any investigation conducted on these cases must aim at locating the victims' whereabouts and to the alleged perpetrators. The investigating authorities must also closely coordinate with the disappeared victims' relatives and families. The loss and trauma the victims' families have to suffer as a result of these incidents is enormous, therefore, the authorities must practice high level of efficiency and sensitivity in dealing these.

I am aware that these cases added to the alarming and increasing cases of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings taking place all over the country. I am completely disappointed of the government's either failure or incapability to prevent these incidents from taking place and to prosecute those responsible. While I deeply appreciate the government's limited actions in addressing the country's deteriorating human rights condition, however, I am not satisfied of the progress. Once again I urge you to exert more effort and take pro-active measures in protecting the lives of your citizens. The cases of enforced disappearance and unabated extra-judicial killings have no place in a civilized society like yours.

Once again, I renew my call to your government to consider the enactment of the proposed bill, which considers acts of forcible and enforced disappearance as a criminal offence without delay. By enacting this law, it could provide greater mechanism for police, assistance and adequate compensation to the families of disappeared victims. This could help prevent cases of disappearance if not totally eradicating it. Unless there is an existing mechanism where authorities are mandated by law to act on, there is a negligible expectation to improve the situation.

I trust that you will take action in these cases.

Yours sincerely,



1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
Fax: +63 2 929 0102

3. Director General Oscar Calderon
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Fax: +63 2724 8763

4. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
Department of Justice
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
Fax: +63 2 521 1614

5. Mr. Orlando Casimiro
Deputy Ombudsman
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices
3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman
1104 Quezon City
Tel: +632 926 9032
Fax: +63 2 926 8747

6. Gen. Hermogenes Ebdane
Department of National Defence
Room 301, DND Building
Camp Emilio Aguinaldo
E. De los Santos Avenue
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 911 6213

7. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders
Attn: Melinda Ching Simon
Room 1-040
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Posted by marga at Mayo 10, 2007 6:00 PM | TrackBack
Post a comment

Remember personal info?