Jhed Tamano, Jonila Castro need protection, not arrest and prosecution – KARAPATAN

“Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro need protection, not arrest and prosecution,” said rights group KARAPATAN as it slammed the arrest warrant issued against the two young women environmental defenders, over charges of grave oral defamation filed against them by the military and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“Let it be clear again – Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro are the victims here. They have suffered enough from their abduction and arbitrary detention in the hands of the military. Their loved ones suffered as well in searching for them in those 17 days of disappearance, illegal detention and torture. The shamelessness of the NTF-ELCAC to cry victims here, being the abductors and violators of the rights of Jhed and Jonila, further exposes its intent to violate rights and freedoms,” said KARAPATAN Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

KARAPATAN also pointed out that the arrest warrant was issued on February 1, 2024, which is less than a week after Tamano and Castro’s counsel received the copy of the Department of Justice resolution on January 25 wherein the filing of charges against the two was recommended.

“It is apparent that the NTF-ELCAC is in a frenzy to get back at Tamano and Castro. Arrest warrants are immediately issued, disregarding the right of two to file a motion for reconsideration on the resolution which was eventually filed on February 12. A very urgent omnibus motion to recall the Supreme Court’s temporary protection order, among others, was filed yesterday. Those who want to suppress the truth are clearly ganging up on two young women who bravely spoke the truth,” Palabay said.

KARAPATAN believes that the arrest warrants issued are questionable, as they also called for a favorable decision during the upcoming hearings on the petition for the privilege of the writ of amparo and habeas data at the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court has earlier granted the writ of amparo and habeas data for Tamano and Castro, and also issued a temporary protection order for the two as “there was an established violation to the life, liberty, or security.”

“These recent events deem that protection for the two is important and necessary, amid the continuing threats, and now, a retaliatory case against them. Their life, security and safety are always at risk, especially with the NTF ELCAC hell-bent to get their hands on Tamano and Castro. We call on the Supreme Court to uphold the protection order for Tamano and Castro, and hope that eventually, the full privilege of the writ of amparo and habeas data may be granted in their favor,” Palabay said.

Palabay also stressed the importance of public support in ensuring the rights of Tamano and Castro.

“We should not allow elements of the NTF-ELCAC and the Marcos regime to further violate their rights, which the two fought for when they bravely spoke the truth on their abduction and disappearance,” said Palabay. #