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2 activists kidnapped in Pangasinan

MANILA, Philippines —  The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called for a search for two environmental rights defenders and church workers who were reportedly kidnapped in Pangasinan last weekend.

In a statement issued yesterday, the CHR said it has initiated an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of Francisco Dangla III, 39, and Axielle Tiong, 29, in Barangay Polo, San Carlos City.

Citing reports of independent human rights groups, the CHR said unidentified suspects in a vehicle and a motorcycle confronted Dangla and Tiong while they were in a tricycle on their way out of Barangay Polo at around 8 p.m.

The commission said the two were reportedly tackled by the suspects then forced into a vehicle.

Witnesses said Tiong was heard shouting for help and that torn pieces of Dangla’s shirt were left in the area.

Rights groups say the two have been targets of red-tagging, a practice that the CHR said may endanger the life, liberty and security of the victims.

The CHR called for stricter implementation of Republic Act 10535 or the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act to address incidents of kidnapping.

It also stressed the need to identify the perpetrators and to hold them accountable.

“CHR urges for an exhaustive search of Dangla and Tiong. This can only be made possible through the immediate efforts of all relevant government and law enforcement agencies to act on this incident,”  it said.

“Parallel to the state obligation to protect the rights of all Filipinos is the responsibility to resolve the growing susceptibility of human rights defenders to suspected enforced or involuntary disappearances,” the CHR added.