Environment defenders reveal new wave of surveillance, red-tagging

Environmental groups complain of being targets of a new wave of surveillance and red-tagging activities they say come amid arrests of environment defenders and land rights activists.

In an alert, the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC) and the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said posters were thrown at their Quezon City office Monday evening, June 13, red-tagging other progressive groups such as Gabriela, ACT Teachers Party and Bayan Muna Party.

The posters, still freshly-painted in red, were dumped in front of their gate as well as in front of their neighbors at Barangay Central, CEC and Kalikasan said.

The organizations share offices.

“Earlier today (Monday), one of our staff members reported seeing two uniformed policemen taking pictures in the direction of our office gate,” the groups said.

CEC and Kalikasan said that on Thursday, June 9, police officers in civilian clothes went to their office, looking for an individual not familiar with their staff.

“They took a picture of our staffer without consent and they did not present any warrant to search,” the groups said.

Thursday’s incident coincided with the mass arrest of 83 farmers and land reform advocates in Concepcion, Tarlac.

While the farmers and advocates were about to be released on bail on Sunday, June 12, an anti-dam activist was also abducted by the police in Pakil, Laguna.

The police dragged anti-Kaliwa Dam campaigner Daisy Macapanpan from her home into jail without presenting a court-issued warrant of arrest.

“The arrest of Daisy Macapanpan, reeks of many irregularities. Why send around 40 members of the Special Action Force to arrest a 68 year-old woman? That’s overkill. This is a clear reprisal against her for standing up against a potentially destructive dam project,” Kalikasan PNE  national coordinator Leon Dulce said in an earlier statement.

CEC and Kalikasan said they fear the threats and arrests may be the beginning of another crackdown against land and environmental defenders.

The groups revealed that their office has been repeatedly targeted by surveillance, red-tagging, and even an attempted raid since 2018.

They said they have reported the incidents with the Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights System, and international NGOs such as Global Witness and the International Union for Conservation of Nature. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)