Environmentalists ‘abducted’ in Bataan still missing, says fishers’ group

(Pamalakaya Photo)

The two young environmentalists reportedly abducted by armed men in Orion, Bataan are still nowhere to be found, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said on Monday, Sept. 11.

On Sept. 2, Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano were forcibly taken by armed men in Barangay Lati in Orion. Both are volunteers of AKAP KA Manila Bay, a non-government organization (NGO) that helps fisherfolk and coastal communities affected by the Manila Bay reclamation projects.

In a protest, Pamalakaya and Church leaders from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) demanded those behind the disappearances of the environmentalists to surface them immediately.

The fishers’ group said that Castro and Tamano had been active in organizing the coastal communities in the northern part of Manila Bay prior to their abduction.

“Their tasks as coordinators of environmental formation AKAP Ka Manila Bay are crucial, especially amid the pressing anti-reclamation campaign of fisherfolk and residents of Manila Bay,” Pamalakaya stated in a statement.

The group noted that the coastal towns of Bataan province are among the many areas that are threatened by reclamation projects, which are covered by the 18, 000-hectare Manila Bay Integrated Flood Control, Coastal Defense and Expressway Project.

“The said project involves the dump-and-filling of productive fish ponds, mangrove areas, and municipal fishing grounds in the several towns of Bataan, Bulacan, and Navotas City,” it went on.

Earlier, the international environmental group Oceana condemned the abduction of Castro and Tamano, saying what happened to them was a human rights violation.

Oceana had also urged President Marcos to order an investigation into the abduction of the two environmentalists under his administration.