By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Sixty-nine-year old environmental defender Vertrudez “Daisy” Macapanpan is hoping that the rebellion charges against her will be junked by the court, stating that it has no basis.
In a virtual press conference held last Saturday, Aug. 13, Macapanpan asserted that there is no truth in the charges filed against her.
“I did not commit any wrongdoing to others or even to the government,” Macapanpan said.
Macapanpan was out on bail since August 9, 2022 after a local court in Infanta, Quezon approved the cash bond worth P200,000 ($3,608.49) for her temporary liberty.
Macapanpan was arrested on June 11 at her residence a few hours after her meeting in a church in their town in Pakil, Laguna. She was violently taken by authorities and was later charged with rebellion. The said warrant of arrest used against her was an archived case in 2008 that did not bear her name.
Read via our mirror site: Arrest of environment activist linked to Ahunan dam project
She believes that her legal battle has something to do with her work in opposing the 1,400-megawatt Ahunan Hydropower Plant Project set to be constructed in Mt. Inumpog of the Sierra Madre mountain range, and part of Pakil, Laguna.
Environmental groups are opposing the said project, claiming that it will destroy the natural resources of Pakil and nearby towns, especially the springs which serve as the towns’ primary source of freshwater.
Macapanpan thanked all organizations and individuals who campaigned and are helping her in her case. She also expressed gratitude to groups who are standing with the people of Pakil in opposing the construction of the hydropower plant project.
Macapanpan said she felt anxious she was detained alone while on quarantine in Pagbilao Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
She was transferred to the female dormitory of Lucena City Jail with the help of the Commission on Human Rights and her counsel, labor and rights leader Remigio Saladero, Jr.
Macapanpan said the CHR acted swiftly after her arrest, which also helped in easing the family’s fear for her safety.
She also said that the jail has a program that addresses boredom among persons deprived of liberty. She said she is somehow lucky as she was visited by friends and family. Majority of the female detainees, however, were seldom visited by their relatives.
Still, Macapanpan said that at her age, she did not think that she would experience this harassment just because she stood her ground against the destruction of the environment.
“Is it a crime to fight back?” Macapanpan said in Filipino.
‘Fight for nature is fight for the future generation’
Macapanpan stood her ground in fighting against the destruction of the mountain in Pakil.
“Our fight for the environment is a fight for the next generation not only for the citizens of Pakil, but also its surrounding area,” Macapanpan said.
The proponents of the hydropower plant project is Ahunan Power Inc., a joint venture of tycoon Enrique Razon’s Prime Metro Power Holdings Corp. and JBD Water Power Inc.
According to AGHAM (Advocates of Scientist and Technology for the People), the proposed project is envisioned to produce 1,400 megawatts electricity. The group said that the water from the Laguna Lake will be pumped into a reservoir on top of the Sierra Madre in Pakil which will be dropped thereafter to produce hydroelectric power.
Macapanpan said that prior to her arrest, the roads in the project area were already being widened. Trees like fruit trees, lanzones and rambutan were cut down. There are also some construction materials being stored near the site, and security guards and soldiers have been deployed in the area.
Macapanpan said that the people of Pakil are against the project as it will affect their clean supply of water as well as food supply as the area is also classified as agricultural land.
“We appeal not to allow (this project) and all other similar projects that are pending. We are not against hydro power (projects), but if they build one, make sure there will be no destruction of natural resources (the effects of which) will be inherited by the future generation,” Macapanpan said. (RTS, RVO)