Groups praise SC’s protective writs to 2 environmental activists 

February 16, 2024

Pro-environment and human rights groups in Manila have lauded the Supreme Court (SC) for issuing protective writs to two young environmental defenders who allege they were abducted by state forces.

The SC granted activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano the privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data and ordered a temporary protection order.

In the 18-page decision released on Feb. 15, the SC said that the activists had established that there were violations or threats to their “life, liberty, and security.” 

“In granting their petition, the Court found that petitioners were able to prove by substantial evidence the allegations in their petition meriting the protection of their freedoms through the writs of amparo and habeas data,” the court said. 

Cristina Palabay, national coordinator of Karapatan, said her organization appreciates) the court’s “views on the existence of elements of enforced disappearance in the case and the established violation or threat to the two young women.”

Castro and Tamano went missing in Orion town, Bataan province on September 2. After 17 days, the military presented them as rebel surrenderees and admitted that the activists were in government custody.

In a press briefing arranged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in Plaridel town, Bulacan province on September 19, Castro and Tamano revealed that they were “forced to sign” an affidavit stating that they were members of the communist party.

In December 2023, the justice department dropped the perjury cases but issued a resolution to press charges of oral grave defamation against the young activists.

The Defend Manila Bay Network said the SC’s “favorable” ruling “further established the two activists’ testimonies that they were indeed abducted by the military.”

“This ruling invalidates the Department of Justice’s recommendation for the indictment of Castro and Tamano of grave oral defamation,” the group said.

The group said the two activists “deserve all the protection they need, especially (since) they have continued their advocacy work on the protection of Manila Bay’s fishing communities and fishery resources against plunderous projects like reclamation.” 

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