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2 kidnapped activists reunite with families

MANILA, Philippines — Two activists who were allegedly kidnapped in San Carlos City in Pangasinan last week have reunited with their families.

Francisco Dangla III and Joxell Tiong are “no longer in the hands of their captors,” a fact-finding team composed of various human rights groups said in a statement.

The two are “still reeling from their harrowing ordeal,” but are expected to fully recount the details of their kidnapping and subsequent release, the group said.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay, a member of the fact-finding team, declined to elaborate on how Dangla and Tiong managed to escape.

He said the two would give details either in a statement or at a press conference.

The activists were in a tricycle when unidentified men seized them in Barangay Polo at 8 p.m. on March 22.

Dangla is spokesperson for the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Pangasinan. Tiong is a coordinator of the Kabataan party-list in the province.

The two are both affiliated with the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment and People’s Empowered Action on Care for the Environment under Caritas. They led campaigns against black sand mining and nuclear power plants, among other environmental concerns in the province.

Palabay said the people who kidnapped Dangla and Tiong should stop harassing the victims.

“We are one with them in their demand for justice. Those responsible for their kidnapping and tortuous ordeal must be held accountable,” the group said.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) had earlier launched an investigation and search for the two activists.

The CHR had expressed concern over claims by rights groups that Dangla and Tiong have been targets of red-tagging.

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