Environmental activists complained of what they described as a “fresh wave of surveillance and red-tagging” in the wake of arrests of environmental defenders in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, June 14, activists reported that posters tagging several progressive groups as “communist fronts” were thrown at the gates of its offices and in the surrounding areas.
“Earlier today, one of our staff members reported seeing two uniformed policemen taking pictures in the direction of our office gate,” read a statement from the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
Both CEC and Kalikasan PNE called on human rights defenders to intervene in the attacks and red-tagging against their offices.
“We call on the [Commission on Human Rights] and the various [United Nations] human rights and environmental offices we have worked with in the past years to undertake preventive interventions against these human rights abuses and threats,” read the group’s joint statement.
They claimed that they have been facing “waves of surveillance, harassment, and red-tagging” in the past five days.
The groups said policemen in civilian clothing knocked on their offices last week and looked for a certain individual while taking photos of their staff without any consent and warrant to search.
The group said it has been experiencing surveillance, red-tagging, and even an attempted raid since 2018 due to their work on the environment.
Leon Dulce, Kalikasan’s national coordinator, said he hopes the national and international human rights community “will join us in pushing back against these abuses designed to stifle the public’s active participation in the governance of our environment and natural resources.”
He described the recent attacks as “muscle flexing by police and military forces emboldened by the promise of impunity” under the administration of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The pro-environment groups called on the public to condemn the attacks.
“Our voices should be recognized and respected as we speak truth to power over the worsening ecological and climate crises our nation is facing,” read the group’s statement.