The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) announced on October 18, 2023, that it had filed charges of alleged perjury against environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano, who were abducted and surfaced again in September 2023. Castro and Tamano had corrected in a press conference on September 19 that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had forced them to make false statements regarding their disappearance. According to Castro and Tamano, they were not abducted by the communist rebel group, the New People’s Army (NPA), but by the AFP in Bataan. Castro and Tamano had campaigned against land reclamation projects and for the rights of the affected communities.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro dismissed this as a false statement and an attempt to humiliate the military. Teodoro announced that the activists had been summoned for a preliminary investigation. The Ministry of Justice described the retraction of Castro and Tamano’s sworn statements as a “playbook” of communist rebels. AFP spokesperson, Col Xerxes Trinidad, also stated that the two activists had surrendered and sought the help of the military so that they could be reintegrated into society.
Raymond Manalo filed a motion for reconsideration on October 23, 2023, regarding the acquittal of former Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. in his case. Palparan was convicted in 2018 for the kidnapping and serious unlawful detention of two students, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño, and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Raymond Manalo was the main witness in the case of the two students. However, Manalo’s charges against Palparan for abduction and illegal detention were dismissed on October 6, 2023, due to alleged inconsistencies in his testimony.
According to the World Justice Project (WJP) Index, the rule of law in the Philippines has fallen again since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office. The 2023 WJP Index, published on October 25, 2023, ranked the Philippines 100th out of 142 countries.
Photo © Desaparecidos