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Environmental activists ‘abducted’ in Pangasinan — groups

MANILA, Philippines — Two environmental defenders were reportedly abducted in Pangasinan, marking the latest attack against green activists, groups said. 

Karapatan Central Luzon said that Francisco “Eco” Dangla III and Axielle “Jak” Tiong were “savagely mauled” and “dragged” into a waiting vehicle around 8 p.m. on Sunday in Barangay Polo in San Carlos City. 

Dangla is a leader of Bayan Pangasinan and coordinator of Makabayan, while Tiong is a member of Anakbayan Pangasinan. Both are founders of Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment. 

“Both are staunch and consistent defenders who vocally defended the people and ecosystems of Pangasinan against the harms of coal-fired power plants, nuclear power plants, incinerator plants, and offshore mining in Lingayen Gulf,” Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said. 

According to Karapatan, the abduction of Dangla and Tiong was the seventh and eighth such incident in the central plains of Luzon.

Kalikasan PNE, meanwhile, said the case marked the 22nd abduction incident under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Of the figure, 14 cases involved environmental defenders. 

Groups said that Dangla and Tiong had experienced red-tagging, surveillance, intimidation and other forms of harassment prior to their abduction. 

“This incident serves as further evidence of the dangers of red-tagging, primarily perpetrated by the state and its rabid military forces,” Advocates of Science and Technology for the People said. 

In the Philippines, individuals and organizations working to protect the environment and oppose destructive projects are frequently targeted with intimidation and violence. They are also vilified and falsely labeled as members or supporters of the communist insurgency. 

The Philippines has been consistently listed the deadliest country in Asia for land and environmental defenders, based on monitoring by watchdog Global Witness. Nineteen environmentalists were killed in the country in 2022.

In September 2023, anti-reclamation activists Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano were forcibly taken by armed men in Orion, Bataan. They surfaced more than two weeks later, and accused the military of