By Aldwin Quitasol of Northern Dispatch for Kodao Productions
BAGUIO CITY— The Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) condemns and calls for a stop to the harassment and surveillance of one of its leaders by suspected state security agents.
Defend Ilocos in a statement said that its regional coordinator Sherwin de Vera has been tailed by unidentified men on Tuesday, July 18 while he was going doing some errands around Vigan City in Ilocos Sur.
De Vera on his social media account also said information from his family and friends at UNP confirmed his suspicion he was being tailed Tuesday.
Defend Ilocos said that on the following day, unidentified men believed to be military agents went to the University of the Northern Philippines (UNP) in Vigan and asked De Vera’s whereabouts from the people he visited.
De Vera said that harassment and intimidation against him by state forces have been relentless.
“This is one of the reasons why terrorist groups like Dawla Islamiyah get away under the authorities’ noses. Instead of using their time and funds to stop criminal elements, they are aiming their guns and money against political dissenters and truth seekers,” De Vera said.
“No wonder, the Philippines is the second most dangerous place for journalists and environmental defenders,” he added.
De Vera said they will file complaints at the office of the Commission on Human Rights as well as the Joint Monitoring Committee of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Philippines within the month.
De Vera writes the column Ilocandia Rumblings for the regional newspaper Northern Dispatch.
Defend Ilocos is an environmental group that coordinates and facilitates the protection of Ilocos region’s environment.
The group was one of the environmentalist organizations and groups who led the opposition to the black sand mining activities in the coastal areas and extractive mining applications in the interior parts of the Ilocos region.
Its regional coordinator de Vera is also active in helping uplift the economic and political wellbeing of Ilocos farmers. #