THE COMMISSION on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm on Wednesday over the disappearance of two environmental rights defenders in San Carlos City, Pangasinan since last weekend, noting that they were previous subjects of red-tagging by state authorities.

In a statement, the CHR said it is investigating the apparent abduction of Francisco Dangla III, 39, and Axielle Tiong, 29, both founders of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment group which opposes mining and energy projects.

At the same time, it called on concerned government agencies to more strictly implement Republic Act No. 10535, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, “to address these cases and ensure that solutions on the level of policy-making can be utilized.”

Citing reports gathered by independent human rights groups, the CHR said unidentified individuals confronted Mr. Dangla and Mr. Tiong in Barangay Polo, San Carlos City, in the evening of March 24 and then beat them up before forcing them into a vehicle.

“Alongside the need to search for the whereabouts of missing human rights defenders is the identification of the perpetrators to hold them accountable under the eyes of the law,” the CHR said.

Human rights groups had told the CHR that the two activists had been subject to intimidation and other forms of harassment prior to their disappearance.

The commission said the government should approve the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by the United Nations General Assembly.

“We all hold the responsibility to foster a country that is conducive to the promotion and protection of the rights of all, and a large proportion of this lies on the need to put an end to the culture of impunity and to reinforce the wheels of justice,” the CHR said.

Independent groups said this latest incident brings to 23 the number of enforced disappearances among activists in the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. – Chloe Mari A. Hufana