2 Pangasinan-based environmental defenders abducted

Dominic Gutoman
3 min readMar 25, 2024

by DOMINIC GUTOMAN
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Two Pangasinan-based environmental defenders and organizers were violently mauled and dragged into an SUV at about 8 p.m. on March 24 in Barangay Polo, San Carlos, Pangasinan, according to human rights group Karapatan-Central Luzon

Karapatan — Central Luzon said the abduction of Francisco “Eco” Dangla III and Axielle “Jak” Tiong is the seventh and eighth abduction in Central Luzon.

“Similar to all other incidents of abductions and enforced disappearances, the two were victims of terror-tagging and vilification despite being genuine champions of the environment and the people of Pangasinan,” said Karapatan-Central Luzon in a statement.

Both Dangla and Tiong were actively raising awareness on the impact of coal-fired power plants and offshore mining. They campaigned against the revival of the faulty Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and the proposed entry of small modular nuclear reactors, according to scientists’ group Agham — Advocates of Science and Technology for the People.

They are also both co-convenors of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment, a member organization of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Ecology Ministry of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan.

Dangla is a leader of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Pangasinan and coordinator of Makabayan, while Tiong is national coordinator for Kabataan Partylist (KPL).

“It reflects the worsening state of human rights under the government of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, which continues to silence criticisms against its anti-people programs and policies,” Bayan said in a statement, calling for both activists to be surfaced.

This incident contradicts the claim of Marcos Jr. of “decreased” human rights violations in the Philippines in his recent speeches inside and outside the country. He claims that incidents of human rights violations were “down by half in 2023 as compared to 2022.”

Read: Drug war-related killings of children continue, refuting Marcos Jr’s claims

Karapatan noted that the biggest hike in human rights violations is in the number of victims of enforced disappearances: from four in 2022 to 11 in 2023. This is followed by a 58-percent increase in the number of frustrated extra-judicial killings and 46-percent in the extra-judicial killings.

“These figures are enough to dispel Marcos Jr.’s false claims that things are looking better on the human rights front. The only thing that distinguishes Marcos Jr. from Duterte is his conscious cultivation of a more ‘presidential’ image compared to his predecessor’s crassness,” said Karapatan.

The abduction of human rights defenders continuously paints the worsening human rights situation in the country, despite presidential pronouncements. Several local and national organizations are searching for the whereabouts of the two activists.

“We call on the people to provide any relevant information about this case. We enjoin all advocates of civil liberties to denounce this latest attack on the human rights community and to put pressure on authorities to immediately release Eco and Axielle,” Bayan said, holding the government accountable for any harm done to the activists. (RTS, RVO)

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Dominic Gutoman

Covers human rights, environment, grassroots initiatives, and accountability mechanisms at bulatlat.com.