Stand with Jhed and Jonila! Hold NTF-ELCAC Accountable for their Abduction and Fake Surrender!

September 20, 2023

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) stands with Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro, victims of abduction and forced surrender perpetrated by state forces. The case of Jhed and Jonila is a clear manifestation of the how the state through the NTF-ELCAC violates human rights to protect the interests of the few. 

September 19, 2023 shall be etched in history, as these two young and courageous women fought head on for their freedom and rights. The NTF-ELCAC with its cohorts in the local government unit of Plaridel, Bulacan staged a press conference to present them once again as rebel surrenderees. But they spoke the truth – that they were abducted, threatened and forced to pose as fake surrenderees by state forces. Victory was claimed, as they were released to their family and supporters.

On September 2, 2023, the two environmental activists were reportedly abducted by unknown men in Orion, Bataan. Their friends and family learned about it through posts on social media of concerned citizens who witnessed their abduction. A campaign to surface them was immediately launched. Their friends from AKAP KA Manila Bay and other rights defenders launched Fact-Finding Missions to find them, but to no avail. Prior to the incident, the two have reported being targets of surveillance.

Jhed and Jonila are volunteers of AKAP KA Manila Bay, a network of fisherfolks, youth and Church people campaigning against reclamation projects in Manila Bay, which is damaging livelihood, communities and ecosystem in the areas of Bulacan, Bataan and other nearby provinces.

CTUHR calls on all freedom-loving Filipinos to stand with Jhed and Jonila and other victims of enforced disappearance and other rights violations and condemn the pattern of rights violations. “As we commemorate the declaration of Martial Law, may we intensify our fight against continuing attacks against our civil liberties,” CTUHR continued.

The Center asserted that the NTF-ELCAC, the National Security Council and the Marcos Jr. administration should be held accountable for perpetrating this kind of attacks and violation of human rights. Many more activists and rights defenders are still missing like labor organizers Loi Magbanua and Ador Juat, indigenous people’s advocates Dexter Capuyan and Bazoo De Jesus. We should intensify our campaign to surface them immediately. We should also call for the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

“We call on our legislators to defund the NTF-ELCAC, which has done nothing but peddle lies and violate basic human rights. This agency deserves no single cent from the people’s taxes! Stop Enforced Disappearances! Abolish NTF-ELCAC!” CTUHR ended.