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Environmental groups call for junking of judicial reprisal against young environmentalists



7 November 2023

Environmental groups troop to DOJ call for junking of judicial reprisal against young environmentalists

Environmental and human rights organizations held a protest action today in front of the Department of Justice main office in Manila in support of anti-reclamation advocates Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano in their filing of counter-affidavits against perjury charges levied against them by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“This judicial reprisal against our environmental defenders shows that the AFP and the Marcos Jr. administration has been relentless in its persecution of those defending our environment,” said Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

Last September, Castro and Tamano were abducted by suspected state agents and held in military custody while en route to a community consultation in Bataan. At a press conference organized by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the two revealed their situation to the public, leading to their eventual release. Prior to this, however, the military claimed that the two voluntarily surrendered as communist rebels.

Kalikasan PNE noted that President Marcos Jr. has failed to comment or respond to the “continuing crisis” faced by environmental advocates in the Philippines.

“Despite posturing as a climate and environmental advocate, Marcos Jr. has been dead silent on the killings and attacks against environmentalists,” said Bonifacio. “This just goes to show how little he truly cares for the planet and its people.

Castro and Tamano also appeared at the protest and shared a statement. “We are the victims here. Despite the charges against us, we will continue to fight for our rights as advocates and the rights of communities affected by reclamation.”

In line with the ongoing visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights in the Philippines, the groups also registered their intent to bring these concerns to UN expert Ian Fry during his stay in the country.

“We hope that the Special Rapporteur can look into this case as a clear manifestation of the human rights crisis faced by climate and environmental advocates in the Philippines, which remains as the most dangerous county in Asia,” said Clemente Bautista Jr. of the Philippine UPR Watch, a group monitoring UN processes related to the Philippines. “Now more than ever, we need to push the Marcos Jr. administration to commit to protecting the rights of our defenders and scrap its the draconian policies particularly the Anti Terrorism Act of 2020 which help perpetuates these human rights violations.” #


Jon Bonifacio

National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE / 0939 913 6943

Clemente Bautista Jr.

International Officer, Kalikasan PNE

Spokesperson, Philippine UPR Watch / 0917 137 2930