Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the alleged abduction of pregnant rebels in Butuan City

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights on the alleged abduction of pregnant rebels in Butuan City

The Commission on Human Rights has received reports of an alleged abduction of two pregnant members of the New People’s Army. The two were identified as Aurily Havana and Jennifer Binungkasan and were said to have been missing since their alleged abduction in Barangay Libertad, Butuan City on 3 November 2022 by members of the Philippine Army.

Noting the reported condition of the allegedly abducted women, CHR CARAGA has proceeded in conducting an independent motu proprio investigation of the case.

CHR, however, also takes note of an article released on 10 January 2023 stating that the two women surrendered to the Municipal Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (MTF-ELCAC) in Las Nieves, Butuan along with two other rebels. It was mentioned that during the surrender rites, the town officials provided the pregnant women with medical attention, as well as food packs and livelihood assistance in line with the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) to former rebels.

As we ascertain the veracity of these pieces of information, we stress that regardless of a person’s sex, gender, political affiliation, or any status, all humans are entitled of their rights.

Enforced disappearance or the arrest, detention, abduction, or any form of deprivation of liberty carried out by agents of the State or by persons or groups acting with the authorisation, support, or acquiescence of the State, with following refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty, is a serious human rights violation. While the Philippines has yet to ratify the the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, Republic Act No. 10353 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 already crimininalises this practice, thus making enforced and involuntary disappearances punishable by law.

CHR continues to stress its stance against armed violence. At the same time, as we continue to seek a more durable solution in achieving peace, respect for human rights is a constant, non-negotiable value that all sides—government and rebels alike—should always uphold. ###