Green activists seek court protection vs military
The two environmental activists who were earlier abducted by the military in Bataan have sought protection from the Supreme Court for fear that state forces would continue targeting them after their ordeal.
In a 27-page petition filed on Thursday, Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano asked the Supreme Court to issue writs of amparo and habeas data in their favor, saying their lives “continue to be in danger” after they revealed at a press conference that they had not surrendered to government forces but were instead forcibly taken by suspected military men.
The petition was filed through their legal counsel, Free Legal Assistance Group and lists as respondents Lt. Col. Ronnel dela Cruz of the 70th Infantry Batallion, National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
Castro and Tamano, both volunteers for the environmental group AKAP KA Manila Bay, disappeared on Sept. 2, but not without witnesses alleging they were dragged into a vehicle by armed men in Orion, Bataan province.
At the time, they were on their way to consult with the town’s fisherfolk on reclamation activities in Manila Bay.
Two weeks later, National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said the two were not abducted, but rather “surrendered” and had asked state forces to “rescue” them from the communist movement.
But when they were presented at a press conference on Sept. 19, Castro and Tamano admitted they were indeed abducted and forced to sign affidavits of surrender under duress.
Since then, however, Castro and Tamano have remained “insecure about their physical safety as the military knows where they and their families reside,” they said in their petition. “Despite their release, there is no guarantee with respect to their safety, especially after drawing the ire of … [the] Armed Forces of the Philippines, the NTF-Elcac, and the Department of Defense, who claimed they were ‘hoodwinked.’”
In asking for a writ of amparo, the two asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary or permanent protection order prohibiting the respondents from entering within a kilometer radius of their residence, school and work addresses.
The habeas data writ, meanwhile, would direct the respondents to “produce any and all information or data” they have regarding Castro and Tamano, and to account under oath how they obtained the information.