Green activists Tamano, Castro claim ongoing surveillance despite protection order

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Green activists Tamano, Castro claim ongoing surveillance despite protection order
This photo shows a picture of abducted environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jolina Castro, along with Rep. Raoul Manuel (Kabataan Partylist) with environmental and human rights groups during a press conference in front of the Court of Appeals on Feb. 22, 2024.
Ian Laqui / Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the Supreme Court's issuance of a temporary protection order (TPO) for environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro, the two revealed an ongoing ordeal of surveillance by law enforcement.

During a press conference held on Thursday, the green activists, allegedly abducted in September 2023, expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the TPO issued by the high court. 


“Napaghahalataan naman namin na meron pa ring mga sumusunod-sunod at maliban sa amin, naging tuloy-tuloy 'yung intimidation at harassment sa iba pang kilalang individual kung san kami nanggaling sa Bulacan,” Tamano said in a press conference. 

(We can see that there are still those who continue to follow, and apart from us, the intimidation and harassment against other well-known individuals from Bulacan have persisted.)

“Sa ngayon, hindi namin nararamdaman na may protection order kaya ang hiling namin sa CA (Court of Appeals), sana maging mabilis 'yung process, susundan namin 'yung mga proceedings pero sana talaga, sumide ang CA sa mga biktima at bigyan na kami ng permanent protection order at production order,” Castro said.  

(For now, we do not feel that there is a protection order in place, so our request to the CA is for the process to be expedited. We will follow the proceedings, but we really hope that the CA [Court of Appeals] will side with the victims and grant us a permanent protection order and production order.)


The SC granted the petitions for the writ of habeas data and amparo filed by Tamano and Castro, issuing a temporary protection order due to the established violation of their life, liberty, and security.

Once a TPO is granted, law enforcement officers and government officials are prohibited from entering within a one-kilometer radius of the individual's location.

On Tuesday, the Doña Remedios Trinidad Municipal Trial Court in Bulacan issued an arrest warrant for the pair, charging them with oral defamation.

In a Viber message to Philstar.com, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said that the agency had complied with the high court’s resolution.

“The allegation that the petitioners feel they are under surveillance has no basis and is the result of an overactive imagination,” NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Joel Egco said. 

The NTF-ELCAC was supposed to present Tamano and Castro as “rebel returnees” in a press conference after the pair allegedly “resurfaced.”

However, during the press conference, the environmental activists revealed military involvement in their abduction, resulting in perjury charges filed against them by the commanding officer of the 70th Infantry Battalion with the Department of Justice.

Meanwhile, the preliminary conference for the issuance of the writ of amparo and habeas data, along with a permanent protection order, was scheduled to take place on Thursday at the Court of Appeals (CA).

Following the Supreme Court's issuance of protection writs to the environmental activists, the Court of Appeals (CA) was directed to facilitate a summary hearing addressing the relief sought by the pair.

However, according to the pair’s lawyer, Dino de Leon the preliminary conference was deferred by the appellate court on Monday, as the respondents have failed to submit the “returns” for the “simplification of issues.”

“Pinagbigyan ng korte 'yung Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) at 'yung mga respondents na isabit ‘yong return hanggang bukas para sa Lunes ay magkapag-proceed na sa preliminary conference,” De Leon said in an interview with reporters.

(The court granted the Office of the Solicitor General [OSG] and the respondents' request to defer the filing of the return until tomorrow so that the preliminary conference can proceed on Monday.)

This prompted the CA to reschedule the summary hearing on February 29, instead of the original schedule on February 26.

A preliminary conference is a meeting between the two parties before a trial, typically presided over by a judge. During the conference, a stipulation of facts will be conducted.

De Leon further noted that the Office of the Solicitor General, which sought SC intervention to review and recall the protection writs, requested the appellate court to suspend proceedings until the respondents submitted the "returns." However, the pair's legal team opposed this move.

“Nakasalalay dito ay ang life, liberty and security ng mga respondents,” De Leon said.

(At stake here are the life, liberty, and security of the respondents.)

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