Ex-priest, 76, 2 helpers missing after ‘abduction’ by suspected state agents – Karapatan

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Samar peasant leader Carlito Badillo (photo courtesy of Karapatan)

MANILA, Philippines — An elderly former priest who was a rebel negotiator during the short-lived talks with the first Aquino administration has been missing with two of his farm workers since they were seized allegedly by state agents in Oslob, Cebu on November 9, the human rights group Karapatan said.

Karapatan said although police in Oslob said Rustico Tan, 76 years old, Lopito Paquigbao and Eddie Cullamat were in the custody of the military’s Central Command, “their whereabouts are yet to be confirmed, and the three remains missing.”

Tan, who used to belong to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus order, was one of the negotiators of the National Democratic Front during the 1986 peace talks.

Romeo Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general, said the two helpers on Tan’s sustainable agriculture farm in Oslob were seized by state agents when they failed to find the former priest at first.

The human rights group said the arrests of Tan and his helpers happened a day before Carlito Badillo, leader of Tag-alag Farmers and Fisherfolk Association, was seized by troops of the Army’s 87th Infantry Battalion, right after he dropped off his children at school in Marabut, Samar, and Emelia Marquez, one of the “Morong 43” health workers, was seized by Army troops from the Medical Mission Group Hospital in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro where she was looking after her critically ill baby.

“As of September 30, 2017, there are 28 political prisoners languishing in different detention centers in Eastern Visayas,” 13 of them ailing, and more than 400 natiowide, Karapatan said.