SC ruling on abducted activists should increase accountability, end anguish — Labor NGO

May 15, 2024

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) welcomes the recent ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) upholding the Court of Appeals’ (CA) decision that military officials have been remiss in their duties as stated by the law in investigating the abduction and disappearance of labor organizers Elizabeth “Loi” Magbanua and Alipio “Ador” Juat on May 2022.

Magbanua and Juat are full-time organizers of national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement), who were abducted two years ago after a meeting in Barangay Punturin, Valenzuela City, Metro Manila. They are among the 11 victims of enforced disappearances under the present Ferdinand Marcos Jr administration, according to human rights group Karapatan.

On August 23, 2023 the SC already issued a writ of amparo for Magbanua and Juat, and ordered the following military officials “to make a verified return of the writ of amparo” and respond to the petition filed by the families of the disappeared:

“Lt. Gen Bartolome Vicente Bacarro,  Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP); [Ret.] General Jose Faustino Jr., in his capacity as Officer-in-Charge of the Department of National Defense; [Ret.] General Ricardo F. de Leon,  Director General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency; Lieutenant General Romeo Brawner, Jr., Commanding General of the Philippine Army; Major General Roy M. Galido,Acting Chief of Staff of the Philippine Army; Major General Romulo Manuel,   as Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the (AFP)  and Brig Gen Nolasco A. Mempin, Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Military Operations”. (

Nothing was heard after that and families of the disappeared continue to live in anguish. The SC ruling is a positive step towards strengthening mechanisms of accountability for those responsible for the labor organizers’ continuing enforced disappearance. It should force those holding the organizers captive to surface them immediately and speak out about officials who ordered the abduction and disappearance.

The SC decision on Magbanua and Juat follows an earlier decision recognizing the  dangers of red-tagging among activists and allowing the possibility of granting former Bayan Muna Rep. Siegfred Deduro’s petition for a writ of amparo.