Two environmental activists, Jonila Castro, 21, and Jhed Tamano, 22, who were allegedly abducted by the Philippine military on September 2, were freed on September 19. The military has denied the allegations of abduction, claiming that the activists voluntarily surrendered. However, Castro and Tamano have said that they were abducted and held in a military camp for two weeks.
The activists were working with coastal communities opposed to reclamation activities in Manila Bay when they disappeared. Their disappearance sparked an outcry from human rights groups and environmental activists, who accused the military of targeting critics of the government.
The release of Castro and Tamano is a welcome development, but it raises concerns about the continued targeting of activists and dissenters in the Philippines. The government has been accused of using red-tagging, or labeling critics as communists, to justify the arrest and detention of activists.
The Philippine military has a long history of human rights abuses, and it is important to hold the military accountable for its actions. The government should also take steps to protect the rights of activists and dissenters.