Parents of abducted activists say they are proud of their children

‘We are grateful they are activists’

The parents of abducted Cebu activists said they are proud of their children and have come to understand their activism better after their six day ordeal in the hands of kidnappers.

Armand Jake Dayoha’s mother Sarah told a press conference in Quezon City on Tuesday they learned more about their children’s advocacies and fully support their work despite fears of continuing harassments against them.

“We are very proud of our children…We are grateful they are activists,” Sarah said.

“What is wrong in being activists? The prices of basic commodities have gone way up, but are the workers’ wages enough? We have learned so much from them,” Mrs. Dayoha added.

Armand Jake, a capacity building coordinator of the non-government Visayas Human Development Agency, and fiancée Dyan April Gumanao, union organizer and Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Region 7 coordinator, were abducted by men in plainclothes last January 10 as they disembarked from a 2Go ferry boat at Cebu Port’s Pier 6.

Both Dayoha and Gumanao said their kidnappers introduced themselves as police officers as men in uniform as well as Cebu Pier security personnel witnessed their abduction but did nothing.

They were recovered at a resort in Carmen town north of Cebu City last January 16 after they were abandoned by their kidnappers.

Danilo Gumanao, Dyan April’s father told the same press conference their children’s abduction was “inhuman, barbaric and uncivilized.”

He said Dyan April is well-known in their hometown in Mindanao as a kind and principled person.

“They don’t deserve such treatment. This practice must stop,” Danilo said.

Abducted activists Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha at a press conference in Quezon City after their rescue from kidnappers they described as government security forces. (Photo by Mark Saludes/Altermidya)

‘State forces did it’

The victims pointed to state security forces as their kidnappers, saying no other group has the motive, capacity and history of kidnapping activists.

“Who else but them has the ability and motive to bring a private vehicle to the pier, drive us around, bring us out of Cebu (City), take us on a boat but those who angry at activists, organizers and development workers?” Dyan April asked.

She added their ordeal is not an isolated case nor was the response of the Philippine National Police (PNP) when their parents reported their abduction.

“They told our parents that we just probably eloped. Is that the way they conduct investigations?”

Dyan April said that the PNP also alleged that they refuse to cooperate in the investigations, instead blaming them by sowing intrigue and gossip.

“Something is off in all these,” she said.

Armand Jake revealed that while he was being interrogated, one of their abductors admitted that they were abducted because they were activists.

“State forces yan. Documented naman (na gawain nila iyan),” he said. (They were state forces. They are known for doing such things.)

He added that they were tied down and blindfolded in the duration of their ordeal even when they had to go to the toilet.

Armand Jake said he and Dyan April have become more convinced that security forces under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government are the real terrorists and not activists they accuse.

“There is nothing wrong in being an activist. I draw strength from this affirmation. What we are saying are true. The workers need living wages and benefits. The freedom to join and form unions must be respected,” he said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)