Philippines: community-based defender reportedly abductedEvent
- Initial Date
- Nov 6, 2021
- Event Description
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has started investigating the reported abduction of an organizer of the militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Central Luzon last week.
Lawyer Leorae Valmonte, the CHR regional director, on Tuesday said his office received an urgent alert from rights group Karapatan about the “forced disappearance” of Steve Abua, 34, who helped KMP organize farmers and indigenous peoples.
Abua has been missing since Nov. 6, on the day he was heading to a meeting in Dinalupihan town, Bataan province, his wife, Johanna, 35, told the Inquirer by phone.
According to Johanna, the supposed captors of her husband contacted her thrice since he was forcibly taken either at a transport terminal in Lubao town, Pampanga province, or in Dinalupihan.
She said a motorcycle driver reported dropping off Abua in front of a terminal at Barangay Sta. Cruz, Lubao. NPA member?
Johanna recalled one of the abductors as telling her by phone that they were holding her husband and that she needed to cooperate with them.
The men described their group as a “different government,” she said, adding that they were asking her to convince Abuan to admit that he is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).In response, Johanna said she had no reason to cooperate with them because Abua is not an NPA member.
A native of Parañaque City, Abua graduated cum laude at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman with a bachelor of science degree in statistics in 2007. Blindfolded, gagged
Johanna said her third communication with the abductors was a video call, through a private chat using the account of one Michelle de la Cruz.
According to Johanna, a male caller sent a 10-second video clip showing Abua wearing a white shirt and sitting on the floor beside a double-deck bed.
She said Abua’s hands were tied. He was blindfolded and his mouth was stuffed with cloth, later removed to show his face.
Johanna said she refused the captors’ demands to meet with them, reveal her address or bring along their young daughter.
“My appeal is for them to surface Steve alive and well,” she said, noting that the abductors stopped sending her text messages when they learned that alerts for Abua’s forced disappearance went viral on social media on Monday.
Pia Montalban, Karapatan coordinator in Central Luzon, said the manner of Abua’s abduction and the negotiation that followed it was done differently but “nonetheless threatening to his liberty and rights.”
In a separate interview, Lt. Col. Eugene Garce, commander of the Philippine Army’s 70th Infantry Battalion based in Bulacan province, said none of the units under his command in the region was holding Abua.
All police units in the region did not have reports on any arrest involving Abua, said Police Lt. Col. Soledad Elefanio, public information head of the Central Luzon police.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Rights Concerned
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Community-based HRD
- Indigenous peoples' rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 6 November 2021, Steve Abua, community-based and indigenous peoples' rights defender, was reportedly abducted by unknown assailants allegedly over ties with communist rebel groups in Bataan Province, the Philippines.