By ILOCOS NETWORK FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Revd. Fr. Randy Manicap, lead convener of the People’s Solidarity Against Large-Scale Mining in Ilocos Norte (PSALM-IN) and member of the Council of Leaders of Ilocos Network for the Environment (Defend Ilocos) received death threat last June 24, after delivering the Sunday mass. He is assigned at the Santa Anna Parish in Piddig, Ilocos Norte under the Diocese of Laoag of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
Accounts from the Diocese said that two separate text messages were sent from cellphone number +639666717822 that read “IKAW NA ANG SUSUSNOD!” and “MAMAMATAY KANG KATULAD NG IDOL MO SI ALBERTO RAMENTO!”
Prior to this, Fr. Randy observed the presence of unfamiliar faces outside his church. These unidentified men started following him after hosting an ecumenical meeting on June 12, and continued up to June 16. On June 23, a riding-in-tandem followed him to and from Solsona where he attended an ecumenical gathering. He experienced similar threats and surveillance from December 10, 2017 to January 2018.
Like Fr. Randy, we believe that these series of threats and harassment are state-perpetuated to dissuade him from attending to his priestly duties to rouse people’s consciousness to protect and defend God’s creation.
This incident is condemnable and further validates our claim of a systematic attack against rights and environmental activist, especially those that are critical of Duterte’s tyrannical reign.
On December 12 last year, PNP and AFP personnel arrested and detained for almost a month our Regional Coordinator, Sherwin De Vera, for trumped-up charges of rebellion. The PNP and AFP accused him of being a member of the NPA and involved in an encounter between government forces and the rebels on January 30, 2013 in Lagangilang, Abra when he was visibly involved, speaking in public and engaging government officials, in the campaign the against destructive magnetite mining in Ilocos Sur since 2011 to present.
The DOJ likewise included him in a list of individuals in the proscription petition the office filed in February to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist organization further putting his life and his family’s safety at risk.
We expect these atrocities against clerics and personalities advocating human rights and environmental defense to intensify with the continuing verbal attacks of Duterte against the church, the DOJ’s terrorist tagging of activist, the proposed amendment of the Human Security Act, and the suspension of the peace negotiations with the revolutionary movement.
Since November last year, three catholic priest have been killed and a missionary nun almost deported. Just recently, reports of three foreign missionaries from the United Methodist Church detained by the government also surfaced.
At this rate and situation, the Philippines will have no problem maintaining its lead as the most dangerous country in Asia and second in the world for environmental defenders. Since 2015 to present, Global Witness has recorded 102 deaths in all, mostly in areas where corporate mining projects exist.
The issue goes beyond the threats against our colleagues in Defend Ilocos and our mission to protect the environment. This is about the Duterte administration’s attack against our civil and political rights, of systematic steps to silence dissent.
These are not just matters for concern but incidents that call on and challenge all environment and human rights defender to express condemnation and act vigorously against tyranny. # nordis.net