Activist Youth Snatched, Interrogated Inside Van

Mar. 20, 2006

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY A young activist was forcibly taken Friday night by men believed to be government agents and was interrogated inside a van for an hour.

Raunil Mortejo, chairman of the progressive youth group Anakbayan in Davao City, said he had just stepped out of his office in Juna Subdivision, Matina, Friday evening when unidentified men forced him inside a blue Nissan Urvan with tinted windows and covered license plates.

The van parked in a dimly lit portion of Acacia Street a few blocks from the Anakbayan office. There, Mortejo said, the men interrogated him and asked him about the people who frequent the office, which Anakbayan shares with Bayan. They also asked him about the activities of the people inside the office and what campaigns Bayan was planning.

Mortejo said he was questioned about his position in Anakbayan. He said he at first denied any link with the organization out of fear. To his surprise, however, one of the men insisted that they knew him and that they knew where lived and which school he was attending.

Mortejo said the men told him to lie low or quit Anakbayan because people in the organization, according to the men, were just brainwashing him and that they were being influenced by rebels. The men, Mortejo said, warned him that if he did not stop his involvement in Anakbayan, something would happen to him.

The questioning went on for almost an hour, Mortejo said.

Maria Nelly Sun, secretary-general of Anakbayan-Davao Chapter, said Mortejos abduction and harassment only showed that the times are “really very dangerous” for activists. Sun tagged agents of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as those responsible for the incident.

She said the way Mortejo was interrogated, the perpetrators clearly meant to silence political dissent. Sun said they expect more such harassments to happen.

She cited the case of former Anakbayan secretary-general Lorie Ann Cascaro, who was once of those included in the rebellion charges filed by the CIDG against Bayan Muna partylist representative Joel Virador.

But, Sun said, Fridays incident will not stop Filipino youths from speaking out about what is happening to the country. Sun stressed that Anakbayan has been criticizing the “anti-people policies, graft and corruption cases and long lists of human rights violations haunting the Arroyo administration.”

Sun said Mortejos abduction was not the first time members of Anakbayan had experienced harassment. Anakbayan member Rendon Amal, for example, remains missing. Amal, 21, and neighbors Elias Telo, 23, Ramonito Delante, 21, were reportedly snatched by armed men on board a white Mitsubishi L-300 van in broad daylight on Nov. 4, 2003, in front of the Victoria Plaza shopping center on J.P. Laurel Avenue.

The abduction of Amal occurred barely a month after two Anakbayan members in Maco town, in Compostela Valley, were killed along with two of their companions. Human-rights groups blamed the military for the murders. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

comments powered by Disqus