KARAPATAN on the SC decision on petition for legal protection of Castro, Tamano

KARAPATAN welcomes the Supreme Court’s issuance of the writs of amparo and habeas data, as well as the temporary protection order granted to young environmental activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Reiyana Tamano.

We note and appreciate the SC’s views on the existence of elements of enforced disappearance in the case and the established violation or threat to the two young women’s life, security and liberty. We hope that their privilege of the writs of amparo and habeas data, the pleas for a permanent protection order, the production order as well as the declaration on the accountability of those who perpetrated Castro and Tamano’s enforced disappearance and illegal detention, will soon be granted.

Jhed and Jonila’s consistent public testimonies on their gruelling experience of abduction, enforced disappearance, illegal detention, and psychological torture for 17 days in the hands of the military and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), and their brave act of speaking the truth in a press conference staged by their captors, stand strong in the face of numerous attempts by officials of the NTF-ELCAC’s efforts to discredit them and invalidate their experience. Truth is indeed no match to repeated lies by these bullies in power.

This aversion to truth, the barefaced lies, victim-blaming and the persistent reprisals against Jhed and Jonila are clearly manifested in the perjury complaint by 70th Infantry Battalion commander Ronnel dela Cruz and in the subsequent Department of Justice resolution to indict them on grave oral defamation or slander charges. This recent Supreme Court decision gives a glimpse into the poorly orchestrated play of the NTF-ELCAC.

We demand the dismissal of the reprisal suit against Jhed and Jonila. Their experiences and that of numerous victims of fake surrender, enforced disappearance, illegal arrest and detention, and killings, are more than enough reasons for the abolition of the NTF-ELCAC. In fact, this notorious task force and its functionaries should be held accountable for their crimes.

We will continue to support the two young activists and other victims of enforced disappearance and fake surrenders in their quest for justice.