MANILA, Sept. 7, 2011— A Franciscan missionary has appealed for information to help find a Dumagat (indigenous people) teenager, who was recently abducted in Quezon province.
Father Pete Montallana knew about the Demer Morada’s disappearance only last Aug. 29 when he visited the Dumagat community in a remote village of Burdeos town and decided to conduct their own initial probe.
Morada helped his parents in their day to day living but has not been seen or heard from since Aug. 24 when he failed to return home in Burdeos town’s Bonifacio village.
Montallana said that witnesses told him that six armed men, alleged to be members of the military, were behind Morada’s disappearance.
Morada was last seen in Pegitna at 2:00am of August 24 wearing yellow green sleeveless shirt, cream corduroy short pants and blue rubber sandals when he was taken to a boat by the armed men.
Montallana, who have been working with the Agtas for 18 years already, is now appealing for information and help – and today made a direct appeal for Morada’s release.
In a statement, the priest said: “Demer’s case calls on me personally to become more vigilant and to ask people to be more vigilant.”
“We cannot allow those who use our taxes to violate our rights. No genuine change will happen until the poor and the oppressed are conscienticized,” he added.
He also appealed to the authorities for a thorough and independent investigation in the “enforced disappearance” of Morada and to ensure security and assistance to the victim’s family.
Morada’s family and relatives, according to him, are poor and uninformed of their rights. They do not even have a picture of Morada which the media has been asking them to produce.
“If not for their connection with the Church through the Indigenous People’s Apostolate of the Diocese of Infanta and the Franciscans, Demer’s abduction would just be simply be forgotten,” said Montallana. [CBCPNews]