Abducted activists say captors asked them if they’re ‘terrorists’
CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — The two Cebu-based development workers allegedly abducted by unidentified men called on authorities to hasten the investigation and identify those behind their forced disappearance, as they publicly spoke for the first time about the incident on Saturday.
Armand Dayoha, 27, and his fiancée Dyan Gumanao, 28, said that while they were not physically harmed in the six days they were held, they experienced emotional and psychological torture.
“What we went through was not easy. From the time we were abducted, we were blindfolded and brought from one place to another. I kept on thinking that it might be our end,” said Gumanao at a press conference on Saturday at the University of the Philippines Cebu, where she and Dayoha both graduated.
According to Gumanao, she and Dayoha were interrogated and asked if they were members of a terrorist group.
“I kept asking them why they did this to us or what infraction we committed? I even asked them to show us a warrant of arrest. But we were told ‘you’re an activist.’ They were asking who our [colleagues] are,” she said.
Gumanao and Dayoha went missing on Jan. 10 after they were allegedly forced to board a sport utility vehicle when they arrived in Cebu City’s Pier 6 after spending the Christmas break with their families in Mindanao. On Jan. 16, the couple was abandoned by their abductors in a resort in Carmen town, 41 kilometers north of Cebu City.
The Central Visayas regional police, in a statement on Saturday, thanked Gumanao and Dayoha for their public appearance, adding speculations as to who were responsible for their abduction should now stop and allow investigators to “find out the truth.”
Gumanao said their abduction was not an isolated case, noting that “many activists have gone missing and were even killed.”
“What if we also experienced that same kind of treatment? All along, we were thinking what stories our abductors planned to make to legitimize our deaths,” she said in Cebuano.
Gumanao and Dayoha thanked those who helped them and campaigned for their release.
“Had it not been because of you and your courageous stance, we should not have been in front of you now,” said Gumanao.
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