“This latest attack against an environmental defender is clearly part of the war of plunder under the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Oplan Bayanihan, targeting critics and opponents of destructive large-scale mining and other forms development aggression to clear the way to areas ripe for resource plunder.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – A leader of a progressive environmentalist network is the latest to be harassed and hounded by suspected military intelligence agents around Metro Manila on Oct. 12.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), reported being tailed by at least three suspected military agents around Quezon City and Makati City.
In a statement, Kalikasan PNE condemned the harassment as part of the Aquino administration’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan.
“We can think of no other entity with motive to harass a known leader-activist but the intelligence assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, notorious for harassing and repressing advocates and activists who have opposed the national government’s various reprehensible policies and programs,” said the group.
Kalikasan PNE said that in the afternoon of Oct. 12, Bautista was at the office of the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham) in Quezon City when he first noticed two suspicious men, alternately loitering outside.
At mid-afternoon, Bautista returned to the Kalikasan PNE’s office in Central village, still in Quezon City. He left the office on his car at around 6:45 p.m., and it was then that Bautista noticed a car and two motorcycles following him.
At around 7:30 p.m., Bautista was in the area of Ayala Avenue, Makati City and decided to park, hoping to shake off the suspected state agents. The suspects, however, staked out at the parking lot. Parking security men approached and confronted the suspects, but they refused to budge nor identify themselves. They eventually drove away at 10:30 p.m.
Bautista said the car had plate number WTO-294, while the motorcycles’ plate were ZK 2550, and NE 24909.
This year, Metro Manila-based sectoral progressive groups complained of intensifying harassment by suspected military agents who tail them around or visit their homes and offices, leaving threats.
Last week, the office of Karapatan-Western Mindanao regional chairperson Bishop Antonio Ablon was ransacked by suspected state security agents.
Kalikasan PNE cited recent harassment against the environmental group, Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (Bukal-Batangas), which was being red-tagged by soldiers on a house-to-house campaign around Lobo Town in Batangas province.
Bautista, Bukal, and other environmentalist groups successfully campaigned for the revocation of the support by the municipal council for the large-scale mining project of Australian-Canadian firm Egerton Gold Philippines.
Kalikasan PNE has also led campaigns and mass mobilizations against destructive, large-scale mining in various parts of the country, such as in the ancestral lands of the Lumad in Mindanao and Igorots in Nueva Vizcaya.
“Indeed, even environmental advocates are not safe from the intensifying political repression inflicted by the AFP against the people’s movement,” said Kalikasan PNE.
“This latest attack against an environmental defender is clearly part and parcel of the war of plunder under the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan, targeting critics and opponents of destructive large-scale mining and other forms development aggression to clear the way to areas ripe for resource plunder,” the group said.