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'Missing' activist charged with murder and arson

After two weeks disappearance, it is revealed she is in jail

'Missing' activist charged with murder and arson

Estelita Tacalan had not been seen since April 27 until photos confirmed she is in jail reporter, Davao City

May 10, 2013

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The leader of a prominent peasant group who was though to have disappeared two weeks ago has been confirmed arrested on murder and arson charges in Dipolog City.

The rights group Karapatan has released police mug shots of 60-year-old activist Estelita Tacalan, taken inside Dipolog City jail.

“We have not talked to her yet. But right now, what is important is that she is alive and we are happy that she is alive,” said Father Christopher Ablon, secretary general of Karapatan in Mindanao.

Tacalan has been involved in protests against abuses by landlords and has lobbied for economic and political rights for peasants.

"We are aghast at the way she has been taken away. If she is facing charges, what the authorities should have done was to follow the law and respect her rights. If she's a suspect, her rights as a suspect must still be respected," said Fr Ablon.

Chary Fe Montemayor, Tacalan’s daughter, earlier sought the help of the Department of Justice in trying to find her mother after she was last seen on April 27 attending a meeting in preparation for activities to mark Labor Day.

Church leaders in Mindanao earlier sent a letter addressed to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima urging her "to take the necessary action." The letter was signed by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, Bishop Melzar Labuntog of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, and Reverend Samuel Domingo of the United Methodist Church.

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