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CHR help sought in surfacing missing Batangas fisherfolk organizer

MANILA, Philippines — A fishers’ group has called on the Commission on Human Rights to help locate a fisherfolk organizer who has been missing for more than two weeks and is suspected to be another victim of enforced disappearances.

Fisherfolk organization Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said in a statement on Friday that Mariano Jolongbayan, one of the group’s community organizers in Batangas, was “reportedly abducted” last November 16 by unidentified individuals.

Before this disappearance, the 65-year-old community workers was reportedly conducting interviews with small-time fisherfolk on the impacts of commercial fishing in the municipal waters of Lian, Batangas, PAMALAKAYA said.

PAMALAKAYA urged the human rights body to investigate the incident and the possible involvement of government or state authorities.

"Due to the widespread human rights violations in the province of Batangas, we have no doubt that those who abducted Jolongbayan are state agents with the aim of silencing him in his advocacy for the rights of fishermen and the protection of the seas,” the group added.

According to Batangas-based organization Tanggol Batangan, who has also been calling to surface the community organizer, Jolongbayan was reported to be in the custody of the Municipality of Balayan’s Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

The group said that Jolongbayan’s family and some of their paralegals had contacted the police chief of the Balayan municipality, who denied having him in their custody. 

The police have promised to continue assisting in locating and reuniting Jolongbayan with his family, according to the group. has reached out to the Philippine National Police of the Balayan municipality and will update this story with their response. 

— Cristina Chi