Forcible disappeared environmental activists in Pangasinan resurfaced

After three days of intensive search efforts, the missing environmental activists, Francisco ‘Eco’ Dangla III and Joxelle ‘Jak’ Tiong, were found safe on March 28, 2024. A fact-finding team formed by progressive groups confirmed that Dangla and Tiong are injured but alive and expressed hope that the two activists will be able to provide the details of their experiences in due course.

According to witnesses, Dangla and Tiong were dragged into a waiting vehicle against their will on March 24, 2024, in Barangay Polo, San Carlos City, Pangasinan. The reported abduction of Dangla and Tiong has attracted the attention not only of local authorities but also of human rights activists who have been searching for the missing persons in military and police camps in Pangasinan.

As members of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment and the People’s Empowered Action on Care for the Environment (PEACENet), Francisco Dangla and Joxelle Tiong have been campaigning against various waste-to-energy, coal, and coastal mining projects in the province. Before their abduction, they were already victims of so-called “red-tagging” (i.e., individuals or organizations are branded as “terrorist”) and were subjected to surveillance, intimidation, and other forms of harassment.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) announced that it would investigate the case and called on the government to enforce the National Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 more strictly. So far, the law has not been applied.

The human rights group Karapatan sees parallels between the case of Dangla and Tiong and the abduction of environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano in September 2023. Meanwhile, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) applied for the cancellation of a protection order for Castro and Tamano back in February 2024. The arraignment for alleged defamation against Castro and Tamano will take place on April 25, 2024.

The OSG also filed a second appeal against the acquittal by the court in January 2023 of a group of ten human rights defenders from Karapatan, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and Gabriela.



Photo © Raffy Lerma

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