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)

Lumad 26 now need real rescue from police, priest implores

The Lumad raided and arrested by the police at a Roman Catholic retreat house inside a university campus last Monday now needs real rescue, a Cebu church leader said.

Fr. Nazario Vocales, Archdiocese of Cebu vicar and executive director of its Commission on Social Advocacy (COSA) called on the government to release the 24 Lumad and two teachers now under the custody of the police.

Vocales said COSA condemns the so called “rescue operation” by the Philippine National Police Regional Office 7 last February 15, adding what transpired was an illegal mass arrest and trespassing.

The priest said the incident was exacerbated by the police’s “terrifying use of force against the Lumad who reside in the premises of the University of San Carlos-Talamban as a venue for their Lumad Bakwit School.”

Vocales recalled that the victims were in a sanctuary provided by the church and with the blessing of Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.

“It was a fitting way to welcome last year’s “2020 Year of Ecumenism, Inter-Religious Dialogue, and Indigenous Peoples,” Vocales said.

Vocales urged Cebuanos to once again express support to the Lumad victims as he urged the police and government workers to resist orders that undermine human rights and dignity.

“They need our help and support once more as the safe space for learning and a sanctuary for the stranded was shattered (Monday) by terrifying and illegal acts,” Vocales said.

Police canard

Twenty-two students, two Lumad elders and two teachers were hauled off in what the police claimed was a rescue operation from a military training school inside the Talamban campus of the University of San Carlos.

No less than PNP chief Debold Sinas claimed that “some of the children told (police) investigators that they underwent some form of warfare training while in the custody of their handlers.”

Sinas and the PNP however were immediately rebuffed by a Cebu City social worker who interviewed the Lumad children.

“We won’t comment on that. The children never said that to us. Nothing about training to be child warriors,” Cebu City welfare officer Annie Suico told

“We interviewed all of the children. They said nothing about being indoctrinated. All their guardians taught them were reading and writing,” Suico added.

Denial of legal service

Meanwhile, Atty. King Perez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers in Cebu said he finally was allowed to briefly talk with some of the Lumad in a police jail Tuesday afternoon.

Perez however complained that the police is making is making it difficult for lawyers to consult with the Lumad, saying they were made to wait for hours Monday afternoon, to no avail.

The police are being overly-strict on health protocols, Perez said, which is a “huge irony, given that they took the children and the elderly from the safety of a retreat house just to detain them in a crowded jail.”

Perez said they will try to secure the release of the Lumad today, Wednesday, if no inquest proceedings were held last night.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it is investigating reports of human rights violations in the incident.

“The (CHR) has already dispatched an investigation team yesterday…to look into the situation involving the alleged rescue of (the) Lumad children,” CHR spokesperson Atty Jacqueline de Guia said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘State terrorism ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino’

“Sinasabi po nila (pulis) na itong mga bata (estudyanteng Lumad) ay ni rescue. State terrorism po ito laban sa mga batang Pilipino… Dahil sa track record ng Pamahalaang Duterte, kailanman hindi ito naging kakampi ng kabataang Pilipino. [Kaya naman] hindi po tayo makapapayag na magpatuloy ang ganitong pang-aabuso laban sa karapatan ng mga bata.” Kim Viznar, Children’s Rehabilitation Center

Cebuano children to launch Leon Kilat book on hero’s 147th birth anniv

A children’s book on Cebuano hero Pantaleon Villegas, popularly known as Leon Kilat, is set to be launched on Monday, July 27, in time for his 147th birth anniversary.

Written and illustrated by graduates of a 2018 workshop, Historya (Children Creating Stories from Cebu History), the story book “Si Leon Kilat ug ang Sigbin” (Leon Kilat and the Sigbin) is part of a continuing campaign to reconnect local youth to their Cebu roots.

Sigbin is a local mythological creature said to come out at night to suck the blood of victims from their shadows.

Negros Oriental-born Villegas was a revolutionary leader in Cebu during the Philippine Revolution against Spain.

The authors of the storybook are Jhulianna Capangpangan (University of San Carlos- South Campus), Santi Sagayno (Gaas National High School), Isabella Faith Bautista (Ateneo de Cebu) and Francis Luke Vicoy (Colegio del Sto. Niño).

Ateneo de Cebu’s Kristine Anne Subaan is the book illustrator.

The book is published by Tres de Abril, Inc and Palm Grass: The Cebu Heritage Hotel.

The cyber launch of the book and celebration of Villegas’ birth anniversary entitled “LEON KILAT: Revolution and Magic” (Celebrating Leon Kilat @147, ang bayani sa Sugbo nga Abtik pas Kilat), will be at two o’clock on Monday [The hero of Cebu who is faster than lightning]. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)