On the Philippines, two young women – Jonila Castro (21) and Jhed Tamano (22) – were abducted on Saturday night (September 2). Both are organizing against the Manila Bay Reclamation Project. Jonila Castro is a dedicated volunteer with AKAP Ka Manila Bay, Jhed Tamano is a committed program coordinator for the Community and Church Program for Manila Bay under the Ecumenical Bishops Forum. They were on their way to conduct important consultations with coastal communities when they were snatched by armed individuals in Barangay Lati, Orion, Bataan.
When an action successfully challenges the status quo, those in power will do anything to stop them. Abducting and torturing activists not only affects them, but also scares others who want to voice their opinions against the destruction and oppression. Philippines has been one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmental defenders. The last president, Rodrigo Duterte, was a vocal and staunch believer in stopping anyone who would challenge his actions. He was succeeded by Bongbong Marcos since 2022. However, the situation for environmental defenders have not yet improved. It has been over six days since the abduction and no news have yet surfaced about the situation of the two women. The failure of the law enforcement agencies to protect and rescue them breeds impunity among the perpetrators, which increases the likelihood of such events to take place in the future.
DGR Asia Pacific has been actively involved in the anti-reclamation actions. The following are some updates on the actions taken.
Consultation & Info-sharing at Las Pinas
August 26, 2023
This consultation and information sharing session was arranged and organised by Kamusta Ka, a senior citizen collective of Mutual Aiders in coordination with the Fisherfolk organizations called Tulungan ng Mangingisda ng Bernabe and Parish Church of Bernabe with the help coming from Local Autonomous and Mutual Aid Network (LAMAN) and Alyansa Tigil Mina.
Our partner community invited some resource speakers who can share information that tackles these issues of concern related to fisheries, rights & policy, Reclamation Project and Seabed Quarry. More than 80 people participated and have engaged with the discussion concerning their situation about the encroaching Reclamation Project in their coastal communities of Las Pinas.
From the people’s direct participation, they have come up with the following demand and suggestions:
- Document all of the destructive incidents on their livelihoods made by the Reclamation Project in Manila Bay
- Make a study about the negative impact of the Reclamation Project in Manila Bay
- Compensate those already affected by the Reclamation Project in Manila Bay
- Create a resolution made by the Fisherfolk organizations demanding to Stop Reclamation Project in Manila Bay
- Arrange a dialogue with the City Agriculture Office/ Municipal Council/ Local Government Unit/ Committee on Environment
Focus Group Discussion
September 5, 2023
A focus group discussion and consultation with Fisherfolks Organization of Cavite City was organized. These fisherfolks are the people who have directly been affected by Seabed Quarrying and Reclamation Projects. According to them, the number of catch began to decrease immediately after the destructive activities started on their municipal water. The seabed quarrying has destroyed the reefs. Their fishing equipment, like the fishing nets have also been ruined by the boats operating on their fishing ground.