Organizing groups of one of the main Global Climate Strike actions in the Philippines have raised alarm over verified information they received of an impending raid into their headquarters in Quezon City.
The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and the Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines (CEC-Philippines) said a reliable source, whose identity they have withheld for safety purposes, tipped them off at around 7:14PM that the office space shared by two environmental groups were allegedly under surveillance by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
The source said a raid was in the offing pending the issuance of a warrant by courts, allegedly because the office was a front for the recruitment of rebels.
At around the same time, a Kalikasan staff member also noticed a buildup of police personnel in a nearby street while they were commuting, overhearing that they were planning to raid a nearby house and were just on standby.
“We condemn this red-tagging and threat against our rights as an attempt to crack down on our environmental defense. We are being attacked on the eve of one of the main Global Climate Strike actions we are co-organizing in the Philippines. We have been ardent campaigners against destructive mines, dams, plantations, and land reclamations. We have exposed the violent attacks against Filipino environmental defenders. Is it a crime to defend the environment and our fellow defenders?” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
Kalikasan PNE suspected that the impending raid was a “clear act of reprisal” to their recent participation in the National Inquiry on Human Rights Defenders organized by the Commission on Human Rights.
The group delivered a scathing report on the human rights situation faced by Filipino environmental defenders, which noticeably experienced a spike of killings under the past three years of the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We always knew that speaking truth to power would eventually earn the ire of the Duterte regime. We have effectively exposed the destructive projects that are proliferating despite the populisms of Duterte on the environment. But we will not be cowed by this intimidation. The Duterte regime must be held accountable for its unabated promotion of fossil fuels and destructive mining and other extractive projects that not only harm the environment, but to communities and defenders asserting their rights to their land and natural resources,” said Dulce.
The groups called on the public to be vigilant and monitor the situation, and to add their voice to the condemnation of the threat of human rights violation.