July 21, 2024

The 13th Division of the Court of Appeals has granted the petition for issuance of writ of habeas corpus filed by the families of missing Cordilleran activists Dexter Capuyan and Gene Roz Jamil de Jesus on July 10. 

The petition was filed against Lt/Gen. Andres Centino, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Gen. Benjamin Acorda, Jr., chief of the Philippine National Police; and B/Gen. Romeo Caramat, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group.

In its resolution, the CA has ordered the respondents to “produce and bring the bodies and persons” of De Jesus and Capuyan before the court.

The CA said if the activists were found to be in their custody, the AFP, PNP and CIDG should show cause why the acitivits should remain in their custody.

The respondents were also ordered to answer the court within five days from receipt of the petition.

The petitioners are Capuyan’s mother, De Jesus’ sister, and other family members.

The petitioners have invoked the wirt of habeas corpus, which requires individuals or government officials who have detained someone to present them before the court.

In their petition, the families assert the missing individuals are likely in government custody, referring to the PNP,  and AFP’s claims that Capuyan is an NPA member and the bounty placed on his arrest.

The families also cited social media posts from military and police accounts, echoing the same accusations against Capuyan and vilifying him. They presented a May 23 broadcast from SMNI, where Lorraine Badoy and Jeffery Celiz outlined Capuyan’s alleged activities, including an encounter with government forces where he was supposedly wounded.

Additionally, they provided a photograph of Capuyan, uploaded by a social media page called Pinoy Exposed on the same day of the SMNI broadcast, showing him “thin, frail, and distraught.”

The page published the picture twice, each time with different captions. The first caption indicated that Capuyan is wanted in Ilocos Sur with a bounty on his head.

The second caption claimed he was not missing but evading charges of murder and frustrated murder. The family believes the photo is the most recent and could only have come from whoever is detaining Capuyan and De Jesus.

Capuyan and De Jesus have been missing since the evening of April 28.

According to the search party composed of rights-based groups, the two activists were forcibly taken by men who identified themselves as CIDG agents in Taytay, Rizal.

Capuyan was a former editor-in-chief of Outcrop, the official University of the Philippines Baguio student publication, and citywide chapter chair of the League of Filipino Students.

De Jesus is a 2016 Communications cum laude graduate who headed the Alliance of Concerned Students and the University Council of Leaders.

De Jesus is the current information and networking officer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples.

Law enforcement agencies accused Capuyan of being a ranking communist rebel leader in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions with a P1.85 million bounty on his head. – Ofelia C. Empian