Abducted activist Stephen “Steve” Tauli had been found Sunday evening after a search by his organization, the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) announced.
“After the search initiated by [the] CPA (Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance) in Kalinga, including persistent calls made to the local government units, PNP (Philippine National Police), and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), Steve Tauli was found at around 10 pm today,” CHRA said in an update Sunday evening.
The group has yet to disclose exactly where Tauli is and who was responsible in his disappearance for more than 24 hours since he was reportedly beaten up and abducted by five men along five men along Ag-a Road in Tabuk City.
National human rights group Karapatan said CCTV footage showed the abductors entering and leaving the CPA-Kalinga office prior to the assault Saturday evening between 6 to 9 in the evening.
“He is still in shock and needs to recover to be able to state the full accounts of what took place since the assault on him yesterday (Saturday evening), CHRA said.
Tauli is a CPA regional council member and husband to CPA vice chairperson Jill Cariño.
He, along with several other CPA leaders and members, had been victims to red-tagging, surveillance and harassment by government agents, the group added.
Last week, alleged drug personality turned government anti-insurgency spokesperson Jeffry Celis reportedly red-tagged the CPA in a forum at the Kalinga State University, the CHRA said.
A Kankanaey indigenous activist in the Cordilleras, Tauli is a staunch defender of the indigenous people’s right to ancestral domain and self-determination proven by his years of involvement in many land rights campaigns against destructive energy and mining projects, the CHRA said.
Tauli is also connected with farmers’ group Timpuyog Dagiti Mannalon ti Kalinga, the group said.
“At present, Steve is active in the Kalinga peoples’ struggle against the proposed two big hydropower projects of JBD Water Power Inc. (JWPI)- the 49 MW Saltan D and 45 MW Saltan E Dams along the Saltan River,” CHRA said.
Prior to becoming a full-time activist, Tauli graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry degree from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños and was active in the university’s Green Mountain Circle.
The 63-year old activist is also a member of the Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity.
Tauli had been an activist since the Cordillera peoples’ struggle against the Chico Dam project during the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. government and has “persistently campaigned against dams, mines, and other forms of development aggression against the Cordillera peoples,” Karapatan said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)