Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) on Monday demanded “a thorough and transparent investigation” into the disappearance of two young women environmental activists.
In a statement, PMPI expressed concern about reports of illegal surveillance against the activists “prior to their abduction”.
“Is their commitment to the protection of environmental rights and championing the needs of vulnerable communities the motivation for this abduction?” the statement read.
On September 2, 22-year-old Jhed Tamano, coordinator of EBF’s Community and Church Program in Manila Bay, and 21-year-old Jonila Castro, a community organizer from AKAP Ka Manila Bay, were reported missing.
According to Karapatan, the two were abducted in front of the Orion Water District office in Lati village, Orion town in Bataan province by four individuals in a grey vehicle at around 7:00 p.m.
The two are the 12th and 13th victims of enforced disappearance, following the case of Cedrick Casano, under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“The pattern of abductions of environmental defenders, as highlighted by recent cases, is deeply alarming and demands urgent attention from authorities,” PMPI said.
The group said it is imperative that those responsible for the abductions “are held accountable”.
“Within the context of massive biodiversity loss, atmospheric pollution, and climate change, safeguarding our environmental defenders is a necessary measure to protect our ailing environment,” the group said.
Meanwhile, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines criticized the “non-cooperation” of the national police in helping the families of the victims.
The group also condemned the government’s anti-communist task force for “red-tagging” Tamano and Castro.
“The Orion [police department’s] refusal to accept a police blotter and sign a desaparecido form submitted by Castro’s mother raises questions on their possible involvement in the abduction,” said Peter Murphy, chairperson of the group.
Murphy also lamented the refusal of the police to show the CCTV footage of the incident to the victims’ families. “We would like to remind the PNP of their legal mandate to serve and protect their constituents,” he said.