environmental defenders

Groups call for release of green activists abducted in Pangasinan

Iya Gozum

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Groups call for release of green activists abducted in Pangasinan

RALLY. Various organizations trooped to Quezon City Hall on March 25, 2024 to call for the safe release of missing environmental activists Joxeille Tiong and Francisco Dangla III.


Community pantry organizer Patricia Non says Joxeille Tiong and Francisco Dangla III are also church workers who helped distribute food during the pandemic

MANILA, Philippines – Local and international environmental, religious, and human rights groups called for the release of two environmental defenders – Joxeille Tiong and Francisco Dangla III – allegedly abducted in northern Philippines on Sunday, March 24.

Groups call for release of green activists abducted in Pangasinan

Witnesses reported seeing two men forced inside an SUV on Sunday night in Barangay Polo in San Carlos City, Pangasinan province.

Tiong and Dangla were convenors of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment.

“Both are staunch and consistent environment defenders who vocally defended the people and ecosystems of Pangasinan against the harms of coal-fired power plants, nuclear power plants, incinerator plants, and offshore mining in Lingayen Gulf,” Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said.

A sign-on statement demanding the safe release of both activists has since made the rounds on social media. As of writing, 48 local organizations, 32 groups based outside the Philippines, as well as individuals have signed.

“Before their disappearance, they were victims of red-tagging, or the practice of the government of naming individuals and organizations as communists or terrorists, which is often a prelude to further attacks,” the statement read.

On Monday, groups based in Metro Manila rallied outside the Quezon City Hall following reports of the abduction.

Community pantry organizer Patricia Non joined the appeals to surface Tiong and Dangla.

“They are both church workers, environmental defenders, and community pantry organizers during the pandemic,” Non wrote in Filipino on Monday. “They recently opposed the tree-cutting in the area where a capitol complex in Pangasinan is set to be built. They have yet to be found.”

She was referring to the development of Pangasinan’s Provincial Capitol Complex, funded by a P500-million loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines.

Environmental organization Greenpeace denounced the “continued persecution of environmental and rights activists.”

“We call on the abductors to surface Eco and Jak, and for the government to take all steps to find the two activists and ensure their safety, and put a stop to red-tagging,” said Leah Guerrero, country director of Greenpeace Philippines, in a statement.

“We are also calling on our lawmakers to prioritize the passage of the Human Rights Defenders Protection bill.”

Meanwhile, non-governmental network EcoWaste Coalition criticized the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for its “red-tagging” practice and said it should “stop the persecution of activists.”

Last year, two women environmental defenders Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano were abducted in Bataan. They surfaced during a press conference held by the NTF-ELCAC, where Tamano and Castro declared that it was the military who abducted them.

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Iya Gozum

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