Environmental defenders red-tagged, holiday crackdown feared

December 23, 2020

We, the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC) and Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE) from the Philippines are raising the alarm over the latest red-tagging of Kalikasan PNE and its staff during the holiday season.

At 7:35 PM on December 14, 2020, a Facebook post by an asset of the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) alleged a Kalikasan PNE staff to be a former member of the New People’s Army. At 12:10 PM on December 23, 2020, a subsequent post was published with a picture of a Kalikasan PNE staff added.

This malicious act is the latest in a series of grave threats to the members of our organizations share the same office space. From 2018 to the present, we have hfaced a series of surveillance, red-tagging, harassments, and even an attempted raid for our work in protecting indigenous people and other environmental defenders.

Red-tagging has been established as a prelude to more atrocious human rights abuses. Recently, the Philippine National Police and other public authorities have leveraged manufactured search warrants and planted firearms and explosives to illegally arrest activists in their offices and homes.

We fear that the PNP is using red-tagging which it viciously calls “truth-tagging” to lay the grounds for illegal arrests and raids of our offices or homes, including the planting of guns and explosives. The timing is also suspect, when many are on a break for the Christmas season.

We in CEC and Kalikasan PNE have been active in relief drives for communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent consecutive typhoon and flood disasters. We relentlessly advocated for the rights of environmental defenders, pressed for the declaration of a climate emergency, and called for a just, green recovery plan for all amid these crises.

For exposing the various environmental and climate injustices perpetrated under the current dispensation, and for demonstrating to the Filipino public that a better, safer world is truly possible, our ranks are being criminalized.

We urge national and global human rights authorities such as the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Human Rights Council to undertake preventive interventions against these human rights abuses and threats.

We enjoin our allies, friends, and the general public to remain vigilant and likewise take advantage of these holidays by including in your holiday wishes to call for an end to the red-tagging and other human rights violations committed by the Philippine government.