The militarization of Zamboanga del Sur in the 1980s to counter the communist insurgency spawned numerous arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings, and enforced disappearances. One of the municipalities that were transformed by the military into virtual “no man’s land” was Tigbao. Suspected rebels and their supporters who were tortured and killed were dumped by the sidewalks or haphazardly buried. In April 2001, after almost a month of digging, FIND’s exhumation team unearthed the remains of 12 desaparecidos, 7 of them on the campus of Tigbao Elementary School.
The commission of enforced disappearance, which is a multiple violation of human rights, has been unabated in the Philippines. The Marcos regime registered the highest number of reported victims at 882, followed by the Cory Aquino administration at 825. There were 340 reported victims under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, 94 under Ramos, 58 under Estrada, and 25 under the present Aquino government.