HomeNewsAbduction survivor Jonila Castro addresses UN; reveals continuing rights violations under Marcos...

Abduction survivor Jonila Castro addresses UN; reveals continuing rights violations under Marcos gov’t 

State abduction survivor and anti-Manila Bay reclamation activist addressed the ongoing 56th regular session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, narrating widespread freedom of expression violations under the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government.

In an interactive dialogue last Wednesday, Castro again narrated her abduction with fellow environmental activist Jhed Tamano by the Armed Forces of the Philippines last year and the subsequent harassment court charges filed against them by authorities.

Castro and Tamano were abducted in Orion, Bataan on September 2, 2023, and were detained for 17 days in a military camp in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan before the Philippine Army’s attempt to present them as rebels surrendered.

“Now we face serious allegations of defamation. These challenges highlight the threats to our freedom of expression as defenders, amidst numerous other attacks (against defenders and activists) under the Marcos administration,” she said in her speech.

Castro, now advocacy officer of the environmental coalition Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, condemned the government’s red-tagging practices and their severe implications for environmental defenders, journalists, and activists.

“Red-tagging not only jeopardizes our safety but also undermines environmental advocacy,” Castro said.

“By silencing voices that promote environmental protection, it facilitates unchecked exploitation of natural resources and hampers efforts to combat environmental degradation,” she said.

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Castro was among the civil society representatives who delivered interventions at the UN session where Special Rapporteur Irene Khan highlighted the perilous situation faced by journalists in exile.

Castro said a journalist from the Philippines was forced to go into exile after threats to his security, agreeing to Khan’s report of the physical, digital, and legal threats they endure journalists endure.

“But just like exiled journalists, Filipino environmental defenders also confront threats that compromise their safety and security,” Castro affirmed in a press release sent to media right after the UN HRC session.

Castro endorsed Khan’s recommendations for the protection of exiled journalists, recommending an independent investigation of the Philippines on continuing human rights violations under the Marcos Jr. government.

Castro is part of the delegation of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review Watch, a network of civil society organizations monitoring recommendations of UN member states related to human rights in the Philippines. 

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