PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 35/12/99
EXTRA 42/99 Possible “disappearance” 12 March 1999
PHILIPPINESPrudencio Bati-on, 37, trade union organizer
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of Prudencio Bati-on, who
has not been seen since 1 March 1999. It is feared he may have been forcibly
“disappeared” in connection with his peaceful political activities.
The police and the intelligence services of the Armed Forces have reportedly
denied that he is in their custody.
Prudencio Bati-on, a trade union organizer for the Socialist Workers’ Movement
(Sosyalistang Kilusan ng Manggawa), was last seen in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan
City, Metro Manila.
Since the early 1970s over 1,600 people, most of them alleged critics or
opponents of successive governments, have reportedly "disappeared". Despite
clear and substantive evidence implicating state security personnel in these
"disappearances", however, none of the suspected perpetrators have been tried,
nor have the victims families received redress. The fate of the majority of
those “disappeared” remains unknown.
Most of these "disappearances" occurred in the context of armed conflict and
counter-insurgency campaigns under the governments of former Presidents
Ferdinand Marcos (1965-86) and Corazon Aquino (1986-92). Many of the victims
were members of legally-constituted student, labour, religious, political or
human rights organizations which the authorities often claimed were fronts
for the CPP and its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA). Other victims included
those who were peacefully critical of government or military policy.
Under former President Fidel Ramos (1992-98) the number of reported
"disappearances" declined markedly as the scale and intensity of armed conflict
diminished. Amnesty International has welcomed this decline but is still calling
on recently elected President Joseph Estrada to resolve past cases of
"disappearances", to confront the issue of impunity and to address the
conditions which continue to allow periodic "disappearances" to take place
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/E-mails/faxes/express/airmail
letters in English or your own language:
- calling on the authorities to take all necessary steps to establish the
whereabouts and guarantee the safety of Prudencio Bati-on, who has not been
seen since 1 March 1999;
- stating your concern that he may have been detained because of his lawful
and non-violent activities, and urging that if he is in custody he either be
released immediately or charged promptly with a recognizable offence under
- asking the authorities, if he is found in custody, to ensure that he is not
tortured and is allowed access to his family and to lawyers of his choice;
- urging that if he is found to have been held in incommunicado detention,
measures are taken to investigate and prosecute those responsible.