We vehemently condemn the recent surveillance and harassment to Clemente Bautista, our national coordinator in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), by suspected military intelligence operatives yesterday on October 12.
The suspicious activity started in the afternoon, when Bautista noticed two suspicious individuals alternately loitering and roaming outside the office of the Advocates of Science & Technology for the People (AGHAM) in Scout Fuentebella Quezon City where he was in a meeting with AGHAM’s volunteer scientists.
When Bautista returned to Kalikasan PNE’s office in Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Quezon City around mid-afternoon, the national secretariat staff barely noticed anyone suspicious loitering in the area until in the early evening. The tailing started at around 6:45 PM when Bautista left the Kalikasan office on his car, when he noticed a car and two motorcycle following him.
Bautista was in the area of Ayala Avenue, Makati City at around 7:30 PM where he parked, hoping to shake off the suspected intelligence operatives. But the suspects, who repeatedly refused to identify themselves, waited patiently just around the parking exit until 10:30PM, even after the parking security confronted them.
Bautista was able to take photos of the suspects and was able to note the car and motorcycles’ plate numbers WTO-294, ZK 2550, and NE 24909, respectively.
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.
Bautista and the rest of the advocates in our network have recently led massive protest mobilizations and other actions in support of anti-mining and anti-coal communities in Batangas, Mindoro, and across the rest of the Southern Tagalog region. They have also been in high-profile actions and have conducted various forms of support for the #StopLumadKillings campaign against the militarization and plunder of the ancestral lands of the Lumad in Mindanao and Igorots in Nueva Vizcaya.
We all know about the continuing war of plunder by the military in Mindanao. Less known is the fact that our colleagues from BUKAL, our provincial counterpart in Batangas province, have also recently experienced heightened militarization and harassment. Some 200 soldiers from the Philippine Army have been reported to have been deployed in areas with land struggles across Batangas, while elements of the Philippine Air Force were reportedly going on a house-to-house campaign around Lobo Town, a biodiversity-rich municipality threatened by the large-scale mining project of Australian-Canadian firm Egerton Gold Philippines, to vilify BUKAL.
Indeed, even environmental advocates are not safe from the intensifying political repression inflicted by the AFP against the people’s movement. 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.
We will not be cowed by the mounting human rights violations thrown at the environmental movement by the Aquino government and its rabid military dogs. The protection of our environment, the conservation of our natural resources, and the genuine development for our people are just causes that not even the threat of death can ever intimidate.
Thus we reiterate to Aquino and the military: stop the war of plunder and hands off our environmental and human rights defenders—scrap the fascist Oplan Bayanihan!
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