The Center for Women’s Resources urgently seeks the immediate release of Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro, two dedicated young environmental advocates who were abducted by armed men on September 2, 2023, in the province of Bataan.
Contrary to the statements released by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Jonila Castro revealed that they were indeed abducted by individuals who identified themselves as military personnel in a press conference held today, September 19. Jonila said that they were forced to sign the affidavit created by the military stating that they voluntarily surrendered to the state forces.
The military even tried to counter Jonila’s statements by saying that syndicates were responsible for their abduction. On the other hand, the NTF-ELCAC is trying to weave more lies by saying that the case of the two young women is “an elaborate hoax and scam perpetrated by the leftist movement on the public.” The truth however is that Jonila and Jhed currently remain in the custody of the military in Plaridel, Bulacan.
It must be noted that the NTF-ELCAC is well known to be involved in the surveillance, harassment, and threats against community organizers and environmental human rights defenders.
Instead of trying to propagate more false statements, the NTF-ELCAC and the military must immediately and safely release Jonila and Jhed. The government has the highest obligation to ensure that the rights of the two young women are respected and upheld, including their rights against illegal/arbitrary detention, physical and/or psychological torture, due process, and independent and competent legal assistance.
CWR joins rights groups and the families and friends of Jonila and Jhed in the call to release them immediately, and to stop the attacks on environmental and women human rights defenders. #