Press Release ICHRP June 1, 2023

As the world marked the International Week of the Disappeared, soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (Bde) are alleged to have abducted peasant and youth organizers Michael Cedrick Casaño and Patricia Nicole Cierva. According to reports from concerned citizens, on May 16, 2023, Cedrick and Cierva were captured alive by elements of 501st IBde in Barangay Cabiroaoan, Gonzaga town, Cagayan.

“The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) demands an end to the reign of terror on political dissent, and calls for the immediate surfacing of all activists who have been forcibly disappeared by state forces,” said Peter Murphy, ICHRP Chairperson.

“The whole world must know that the new Marcos Jr administration in the Philippines continues the brazen violation of human rights carried out by former President Duterte. In particular, the forcible disappearance of progressive political activists is already worse than under Duterte,” Mr. Murphy said.

Patricia Cierva is a high-profile former student leader, held in affection by her generation of students. Pat was prominent at the University of the Philippines Manila 2016-19, and Chairperson of the Kabataan Party-List for the National Capital Region in 2018. A student in development studies, she opted to do her practicum in Cagayan Province in the north-east of Luzon in 2019. She went back to Cagayan province to share her knowledge and empower the farmer communities.

Cedrick Casaño is a former philosophy student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He was an active campaigner for the “Green Platform” in Cagayan, where magnetite sand mining operations were damaging the environment that would result to food insecurity and biodiversity loss. 

The reported incidents of Enforced Disappearance are alarming and seem to be the trend. One of the most recent cases is the enforced disappearance of indigenous peoples’ rights defenders Gene Roz “Bazoo” de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan, who went missing since May 18, 2023.

To date the Philippine Government has not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED). It was one of the recommendations by several UN member states including Japan, France, Denmark, Italy and Brazil during the Universal Periodic Review in 2022, which the Philippines has not accepted.

“The spate of Enforced Disappearances during this first 11 months of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a full proof that the lives of Filipino community activists are at stake. The Philippine government must surface the disappeared, and ratify and comply with ICPPED”, concluded Murphy.

Contact: Peter Murphy +61 418 312 301