MANILA, Philippines — The families of two community organizers Loi Magbanua and Ador Juat have pleaded with the Supreme Court to issue a protective order for their loved ones who they say have been in military custody since May 3.
Members of Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno and other groups staged a protest outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday as relatives of Magbanua and Juat filed a petition seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo for the two union organizers.
The writ of amparo is a protection granted to applicants when threats to their life, liberty and security emanate from the military, police and other state security forces. It covers extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances or threats thereof.
They also requested the issuance of a temporary protection order for their families and an inspection order that would allow them to look through Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City and Fort Magsaysay in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija, where they fear that Magbanua and Juat will be held against their will.
The respondents are the Chief of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Bartolome Bacarro, the Officer in Charge of the Ministry of National Defense, Jose Faustino Jr., the Director General of the National Intelligence Coordination Agency, Ricardo de Leon, and five other soldiers.
Magbanua and Juat are full-time community organizers for the Kilusang Mayo Uno Task Force.
The petitioners said the two men were kept incommunicado for days after a meeting with workers in Valenzuela on May 3, prompting the KMU to launch fact-finding missions.
Juat’s daughter, Marielle, said her father visited her on May 14, but she said he was acting differently. He also visited his sister on her birthday May 27 and told her he was staying at Camp Aguinaldo, without giving further details.
During Juat’s fourth visit to Marielle on July 1, Claimant Maureen said she was able to speak to her father where she learned the following, as stated in the plea:
My father told my sister that on May 3, 2022, he and Loi attended a meeting in Valenzuela. That right after meeting, they decided to go home together. When they reached the main road, they saw two vehicles on the side of the road. Suddenly, unidentified men grabbed them both. He fought back, but two very strong men hugged him and forced him into one of the waiting vehicles.
Meanwhile, Magbanua has been incommunicado since May 3.
His family filed a report in the form of a blotter and requested the assistance of the Human Rights Commission to carry out an inspection of Camp Aguinaldo, but were told that they would not be authorized to carry out a search at the Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
‘Detained against their will’
“The defendants and their agents and others acting on their behalf have manifestly violated and continue to violate the rights to life, liberty and security of [Juat and Magbanua]“, told the petitioners to the SC.
Magbanuan remains missing and the petitioners said this is evidence of the continued violation of these enduring rights.
The petitioners also argued that even if Juat was able to visit his daughter and talk to her family, “this does not mean that his right to liberty has not been violated and is continually being violated” since he may be under the constraint.
“The fact remains that both Loi and Ador are victims of enforced disappearance,” they said.
Ador’s daughters also said that if their father had freedom of movement, he would not stay at Camp Aguinaldo, but rather organize the workers as he has done all his life.