Police claims abducted brother of Sorsogon peasant leader “surrendered”

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The police and military abducted Jose Marie Estiller, brother of a Sorsogon peasant leader, and falsely claimed he “surrendered” on February 23 at the 903rd IBde in Barangay San Rafael, Castilla, Sorsogon. Estiller’s relatives and Karapatan-Sorsogon previously reported he was abducted by armed men in civilian clothes of the combined forces of the 22nd IB, 59th IB and the police of Sto. Tomas, Batangas on February 20.

In the statement of Maj. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) head, Estiller was considered the “2nd Most Wanted” in Bicol. The state accused him of being a New People’s Army (NPA)-Sorsogon fighter and charged him with several cases including murder, and three counts of illegal possession of firearms in Sorsogon.

Contrary to this lie, a CCTV clearly show how Estiller was abducted without presenting any legal documents. In the video, Estiller was walking back to his rented house when five men suddenly surrounded him around 5 p.m. and dragged him away.

The CCTV footage also clearly shows two of the five men who abducted the victim were armed. Karapatan-Sorsogon also identified one of the abductors of the victim as Jimmy Dela Torre, a military agent who was a former Red fighter of the New People’s Army-Sorsogon. The group says Dela Torre is notorious in Sorsogon for endangering activists and the masses he accuses of being linked to the revolutionary movement.

State forces repeatedly denied having custody of the victim until Estiller’s “surrender” was announced yesterday, February 27. According to relatives, they are still unable to trace the exact whereabouts of the victim.

Jose Marie is the brother of Amihan-Sorsogon peasant leader and former political prisoner Jean Estiller. She said they were together in Batangas at that time because her brother was scheduled to undergo treatment for hypertension, diabetes, high uric acid and kidney stones on that day. She, their relatives and Karapatan-Sorsogon, demand the safe release of the victim. “The law must be respected and due process must be enforced if he has a case to face,” Defend Bicol said.

Jose Marie’s case is similar to the military abduction and nearly two weeks of detention, torture and harassment of environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro in September 2023.

AB: Police claims abducted brother of Sorsogon peasant leader "surrendered"