ILOILO CITY–Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President and Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has joined calls for the release of two Iloilo activists who have been held captive for over a hundred days now.
In a statement released Saturday marking the 100th day since Ma. Luisa Posa-Dominado and Nilo Arado were abducted by unidentified armed men in Oton town in Iloilo, Lagdameo called on the captors of the two victims to release them unharmed.
“We are very much aware of the great pain and anxiety this has brought to their respective families and friends. With them and in their behalf, we are appealing to their captors that they be allowed to return to their families alive and sound,” said Lagdameo.
The prelate said “such act of mercy and compassion will help bring at least some peace to our society whose peace is disturbed for many reasons.”
Lagdameo earlier called for the release of missing activist Jonas Burgos who was also forcibly taken allegedly by military agents in a mall in Quezon City. Military officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in the abduction.
Aside from Lagdameo, local government units in Iloilo including the provincial board and four municipal councils have issued separate resolutions condemning the April 12 abduction and called for the safe release of the two victims.
Former political detainees who fought the Marcos rule went out in the streets again on Sunday and joined a rally to mark the 100th day of abduction of the victims.
The protesters were mostly members of the Save Ma. Luisa Posa-Dominado and Nilo Arado Movement and the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (Selda or Association of Former Detainees Against Detention and for Amnesty), which counts activists who were jailed and tortured during the Marcos regime.
The former detainees, mostly in their 50s, had just come from an event where they performed a street play to dramatize the unabated abduction and killing of political activists.
Dominado, who was among the longest jailed detainees in Western Visayas during the Marcos regime, was the spokesperson of the group in Panay when she was abducted.
Dominado, Arado, the chairperson of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Panay and a national council member of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, and Jose Ely Gerachico, the public information officer of the human rights group Karapatan in Panay, were on their way home to Iloilo City from Antique on April 12 on board a pick-up when they were waylaid by armed men at around 9:30 p.m. in Oton town, around seven kilometers south of the city.
Garachico, who was driving the vehicle, was shot in the neck and was ordered to get off from the pick-up. One of the armed men took over the vehicle and drove away with Dominado and Arado on board.
Selda board member Fortunato Pelaez said “what is happening is worse in some respects to Martial Law.”
“Luisa went underground, was detained and escaped several times from prison camps and was heavily tortured during Martial Law. She survived. But under this administration, we are losing hope that we will see her again,” said Pelaez.
Pelaez said they feared the abductions and killings would continue with the implementation of the Human Security Act, which took effect on July 15.