Activist writer in Zamboanga, abducted and disappeared by the military and police

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In a statement on February 27, Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao Region condemned the military and police for the abduction and enforced disappearance of an activist writer and his companion. The soldiers and police of Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay abducted and have not yet released Nelson Bautista Jr, a former journalist from the Notre Dame College campus in Kidapawan City.

On 25 January, police and soldiers raided the house where Bautista and his companion Ademar Anciero Etol, 64, were staying in Barangay Balingasan in the same town. Etol was arrested and charged with murder. He is currently being held at the Siay City Police Station. Meanwhile, Bautista’s family and friends have not heard from him since.

“Bautista and Etol have long been targets of the state,” according to the Anakbayan-SMR statement. Etol, a native of San Isidro, Davao del Norte, was accused by the military of being a Red fighter. According to the group, he was falsely charged with planted evidence of gun and ammunition.

Bautista was president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in North Cotabato in 2004. He was also the convener of KALAMPAG, an alliance against the abuses by the Piñol family in North Cotabato. He has spent almost two decades of his life in remote villages where he was active in campaigns against destructive mining and for the rights of Lumads and peasants in different parts of the Davao region. Bautista is also a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and a staunch defender of the sector’s rights.

Because of his activities, the military considered and hunted him as a “terrorist.”

“The enforced disappearance of Bautista follows the pattern of abductions under the Marcos regime carried out by agents of the military and NTF-Elcac to present the victims as fake surenderees,” the group said. The same was done to activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro in Bataan, and to Dyan Gumanao and Armand Dayoha in Cebu, and most recently, to Jose Marie Estillier in Batangas.

“Surface Bautista!” the group calls. It demanded the state to respect his legal and political rights and present him in court. It also called for the release of Etol.

The group urged all Baustita’s colleagues and friends, defenders of human rights and peace, to strengthen the call for Bautista’s immediate and safe release.

AB: Activist writer in Zamboanga, abducted and disappeared by the military and police