Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan) strongly condemns the illegal arrest and detention of nine (9) peasants, human rights defenders and anti-coal activists by the Philippine National Police Batangas (PNP Batangas) and elements of 730th Philippine Air Force (PAF). The nine (9) were arrested and detained last November 20 during a Fact Finding Mission organized by Batangas Human Rights Alliance (BHRA-Karapatan) to investigate the militarization and human rights situation in Nasugbu, Batangas after a reported encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government troops.
Five (5) among the nine (9) arrested namely Leonardo delos Reyes 43 year old, Carlos Sanoza 62, Josefino Castillano 50, Peping Sacdalan 67, and Robert Hernandez, were members of Kaisahan, an organization of farmworkers, and Samahan ng Pinagkaisahang Damdamin (SAPIDA) in Brgy Quisimbing, both are in Calaca, Batangas. These organizations are also part of the People’s Organization campaigning for Environmental rights and Justice (Power Just), a batangas wide environmental network active in opposing pollutive coal power plants.
SAPIDA and Kaisahan have long been opposing destructive projects in their community such as the Calaca Coal Power Plant owned by DMCI Corporation. Years of operation of this power plant have caused adverse impacts on environment and public health. Several rights violation perpetrated by private security and state forces have also been recorded.
The arrested peasants under Kaisahan is also a Kalikasan and NAFCON’s (National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, a United States based filipino organization) partner in our Adopt a Community Project which aims to protect the coastal marine ecosystem and support the livelihood of communities in the area.
These organizations were also active in opposing other environmentally destructive projects such as large-scale mining in Lobo, limestone and cement plant in Calatagan, and eco-tourism projects in Nasugbu.
The intensification of attacks against environmental defenders in Batangas is a maneuver to facilitate the entry of destructive projects and pacify people’s growing resistance. State forces which have sworn to protect the rights of the people are the ones who are terrorizing communities to defend the interests of big corporations.
We reiterate the immediate release of the nine (9) arrested. Pull out police and military troops in the communities of Batangas. PNP Batangas and 730th PAF should be investigated and castigated for the series of harassment and rights violation against environment defenders.