environmental defenders

2 women environmental activists abducted, groups say

Iya Gozum

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2 women environmental activists abducted, groups say

Jhed Tamano (left), 22, and Jonila Castro, 21, were reportedly abducted last Saturday, September 2, 2023

AKAPA KA Manila Bay and Dittz Centeno De Jesus

The recent abduction attests to the dangers that environmental defenders in the country continue to face, says Oceana vice-president Gloria Ramos

MANILA, Philippines – Two women environmental activists were allegedly abducted in Orion, Bataan, two groups reported on Sunday, September 3.

Reports from AKAP KA and human rights organization Karapatan said Jonila Castro, 21, and Jhed Tamano, 22, were preparing for relief operations in Bataan before they were abducted at night and taken away in a gray SUV last Saturday, September 2.

“A pair of slippers and sandals were left in the area where they were taken,” Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said.

Castro is a community volunteer for AKAP KA Manila Bay, an alliance of fisherfolk, youth, and church members. Tamano is the program coordinator for the Ecumenical Bishops Forum.

As of Monday, AKAP KA said the whereabouts of the two women were still unknown to their families and friends.

Castro is a psychology major while Tamano is a business economics graduate, both from the Bulacan State University.

Deadly country for activists

The recent abduction attests to the plight of environmental defenders in the country, according to a civic leader.

“This is a sad reminder of how environmental activists are constantly at risk in this day and age,” said Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, vice president of Oceana, a group that is also campaigning against reclamation projects in Manila Bay.

Reclamation projects have been a sore point between the government and some advocacy groups recently.

With President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. suspending the reclamation projects while the environment department conducts its assessment, groups have continued with protests and organizing fisherfolk and communities affected by the development projects.

“As the decimation of the environment and communities’ livelihood worsen because of self-serving projects in Manila Bay, we need more people like Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano,” said AKAP KA in Filipino.

In 2022, non-profit organization Global Witness reported that the Philippines was still one of the deadliest countries in the world for land and environmental defenders. – Rappler.com

[OPINION] Environmental defenders, our heroes

[OPINION] Environmental defenders, our heroes

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Iya Gozum

Iya Gozum covers the environment, agriculture, and science beats for Rappler.