Missing development workers in Cebu found, accuses police for abduction

Jan. 17, 2023
Photo courtesy of Karapatan Central Visayas

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Two development workers who went missing for six days upon their return to Cebu last week have been found and reunited with families, as they claim state forces abducted them.

Dyan Gumanao and Armand Jake Dayoha, who work as coordinators for the Cebu chapters of Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Alliance of Health Workers respectively, were abandoned by their abductors in a small resort in Carmen, Cebu on Sunday afternoon but only reunited with their family and colleagues on Monday morning. 

Families last contacted them on Tuesday, January 10, after the two arrived in Cebu Port after a trip from Cagayan de Oro. Gumanao and Dayoha, who are in a relationship, came from their Christmas holiday with Gumanao’s family.

Their parents, Danilo Gumanao and Sarah Dayoha, in a press conference Monday afternoon said they suspect their abduction was related to their activism “in advancing the people’s cause.” 

“Wala man koy laing makitang rason nganong nahitabo ni kanila kay klaro man ang aktibo ang duha diha sa pag advance sa katungod sa katawhan. Sayod ang tanan niana (I can’t see any other motive in this incident involving them, because both of them have been actively advancing the people’s rights. Everyone knows that),” said Gumanao, a Davao-based development worker for four decades, in a phone interview with Davao Today. 

Karapatan Central Visayas said that Dyan and Armand had told their colleagues they have seen people tracking their movements in the past years.

Police identified

In a video footage shared during the press conference, both Gumanao and Dayoha were seen dragged inside a silver-colored vehicle by unidentified men on January 10, the day they arrived in Cebu. Several eyewitnesses saw the incident.

Dyan’s father, in the same phone interview, said his daughter identified their abductors as members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).  

“Ang ingon niya (Dyan) nagpaila sila police tapos gisingitan sila nga dili na magbuhat og commotion unya nagbirahay na sila sakay sa sakyanan. Naa man to makita sa video (Dyan said they identified themselves as police and squeezed themselves in and warned them not to make a commotion, and then they dragged them to their vehicle. You can see it all in that video)),” Gumanao said.

The video and other footage of their alleged abduction surfaced after the family and the couple’s organizations made a collective appeal to the public over the weekend to share information on the whereabouts of the two.

Gumanao said Dyan and Armand were “blindfolded” while on board in the car as it drove in circles, and were brought to an unknown place where they were detained separately. 

“During sa ilang pila ka adlaw nga pagkawala, gi-interrogate daw sila sa separate rooms (During those days that they went missing, they were interrogated in separate rooms),” he added. 

Danilo added that Dyan’s wrists had marks that showed she was handcuffed.

“Naay mark gyud sa posas ang ilang mga kamot showing nga nagresist gyud silang duha (There were marks in their hands, it showed they resisted).”

Dyan was able to contact her family Sunday afternoon telling them that she and Armand were in a resort in Carmen. The families were accompanied by organizations that fetched the two on Monday morning.

Both Dyan and Armand will undergo medical evaluation according to their families. 

Frustration with authorities

Gumanao was thankful to organizations, especially at the University of the Philippines Cebu, where Dyan and Armand have figured as student leaders, lecturers, and organizers in the UP community.

Dyan graduated cum laude in Mass Communication, and was chairperson of the university’s student council. Dayoha graduated from UP Cebu’s psychology program, has served as a lecturer to the university’s National Service Training Program (NSTP) since 2015, and is pursuing a second degree in Fine Arts.

The families, however, expressed frustration to authorities for their inaction to help them.

Dayoha’s mother Sarah narrated how they were passed around from port authorities to the police.

“Pag abot namo sa pier gipasa pasa mi unya kanang nag-ingon nga ‘ah basin nagtaban to sila, ah basin naa moy kuan sa imong… girlfriend kuno’…in short puro sila balibad nga walay komosyon nga nahitabo sa sulod sa pier. So gipasa nasad mi sunod didto sa naghatag sa katong manifest sa ilang names, wa gihapon (When we went to the pier, we were passed around, and they even said, ‘maybe they eloped, or something happened with your son’s girlfriend’…They denied there was a commotion in the pier. We were referred to another person who held the boat’s manifest with their names, they also did nothing),” she said. 

Dayoha also criticized the police when they filed a blotter last Friday, January 13. “The police did not conduct its investigation because it is weekend, no duty personnel to sign an order, and the personnel are busy for the celebration of Cebu’s Sinulog festival. I mean, isn’t there an officer on duty for that day?” she said.

Karapatan Central Visayas spokesperson Dennis Abarrientos accused the police and maritime authorities of covering up the incident and pushed for a thorough investigation into their involvement in the incident, including management of 2GO Travel and coastguard personnel.

“We are not trashing out at the police from the picture. We are holding them to account for their responsibility to investigate. We demand that they fulfill their mandate which is to make an investigation based on the complaint raised to them and let’s see what will be the result of the investigation,” said Abarrientos. 

He clarified that because they have doubts about the involvement of the PNP in the alleged abduction, they are “not fully trusting the investigation to the PNP” as they also plan to seek help from the Commission on Human Rights and the National Bureau of Investigation.

Jaime Paglinawan, Chairperson of AMA SUGBO KM said they will also file a complaint with the International Labor Organization to investigate their case as Armand works as a volunteer organizer of their organization. 

Meanwhile, The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas in an interview assured the transparency in the investigation and asked for Dayoha and Gumanao to help.

“Their presence will fast-track the investigation and their blow-by-blow account of what transpired will shed light in determining the perpetrators. We request their cooperation with the investigation,” the regional police office said. (davaotoday.com)

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