Environmentalists post bail, continue their fight after abduction

Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro. (Photo courtesy of Hands Off Jhed & Jonila Network)


MANILA – After bravely exposing the abduction committed by state forces, environment and anti-reclamation activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro continue another fight against detention.

The two activists posted bail amounting to P18,000 (US$322)each after Doña Remedios Trinidad Municipal Trial Court issued arrest warrants against them, in connection with the “grave oral defamation” charges recommended by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The case, which ironically came from the DOJ, stemmed from a press conference last September which exposed their abduction and revealed the lies of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that they are rebel surrenderers.

The two activists detailed their abduction. They were walking along Manrique Street in Orion, Bataan on September 2, 2023, around 7:00 p.m., when unidentified men suddenly abducted them.

Read our collection of stories detailing Castro and Tamano’s fight against abduction: Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano’s fighting back

Castro and Tamano experienced severe psychological torture and threats, after being interrogated in two locations, forcing them to claim that they surrendered as rebels. They were even sent to the camp of the 70th Infantry Battalion in Bulacan on September 12.

With the narrative of their grueling experiences, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that Castro and Tamano are entitled to the remedies of writs of amparo and habeas data and a temporary restraining order (TRO).

The following writs are remedies given to persons whose right to privacy in life, liberty, or security is violated or threatened by an “unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.”

The Court also found that elements of enforced disappearance were present with evidence gathered from (1) affidavit of witnesses to the abduction, (2) attestation of Castro and Tamano showing struggle against their captors, and (3) photos of their footwear left at the scene of the abduction.

In a joint statement, Castro and Tamano emphasized that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the decision of the SC to grant them the legal remedies.

“The only criminals here are the abductors and liars from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and NTF-ELCAC, and government agencies who work in connivance with them,” they said.

They also emphasized that the law, once again, is being weaponized against the dissenting citizens. They cited the case of Frenchie Mae Cumpio, Amanda Echanis, and the most recent case of Jade Castro, as major examples of unjust political imprisonment.

“The fight of the people goes beyond these legal cases. The shackles can no longer silence the people in struggle — only through the victory of advancing genuine democracy and freedom,” Castro and Tamano ended. (RTS) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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