The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has urged the government to "exhaust all efforts" to locate two activists who have "disappeared' for more than two weeks.
In a statement, the CHR said that reports of the families of Gene Roz "Bazoo" de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan stated that the two have been missing after meeting at Golden City, SM Hypermarket in Taytay, Rizal last April 28.
It said that De Jesus, 27, works as an information and communication officer of the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples Rights, while Capuyan, 56, is an activist leader based in La Trinidad, Benguet.
Both of them are University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio graduates who served as members of the Alliance of Concerned Students of UP Baguio during their college days, it also said.
The CHR said the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance suspected that government security units are detaining De Jesus and Capuyan considering that the military has a P1.8 million bounty on the latter who is reportedly an officer of the Chadi Molintas Command of the New People’s Army.
It said that based on reports, law enforcement, security, and intelligence agencies in Rizal have responded that De Jesus and Capuyan are not in their custody.
It called on law enforcement agencies to maximize all efforts in searching for the missing activists. It also encouraged any witnesses to come forward and either coordinate with the CHR or other authorities to help locate De Jesus and Capuyan.
"The Commission emphasizes to all parties that maintaining transparency is paramount in uncovering the truth behind this case," the CHR said.
Meanwhile, it said its regional office has started a probe on petition of one of the victim’s family member and online allegations that the two activists are under the custody of state security units.
It vowed to fulfill its mandate by investigating any suspected arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of liberty, such as illegal arrest, detention, or abduction, as severe human rights violations punishable by Republic Act No. 10353, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, and rooted in the principles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
"We reiterate our fervent call for the concrete protection of activists and human rights defenders," the CHR stressed.