MANILA - Members of environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan) protested in front of the justice department on Friday to urge the agency to exclude fellow-environmentalist and human rights advocate Sherwin de Vera from its terror list.
De Vera is the coordinator of the Ilocos Network for the Environment – Defend Ilocos.
Prior to his inclusion in the DOJ’s terror list, he was arrested last December on charges of rebellion but was able to post bail.
His colleague from Ilocos insist he is not a terrorist.
“Isa lang naman siyang aktibista o kaya environmental advocate at human rights advocate. Kaya malayo po sa pinaparatang sa kanya na terrorist o kaya NPA pati,” Mary Ann Gabayan, secretary general of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance, said.
Gabayan said they have filed a motion with the DOJ last Thursday to seek the removal of de Vera’s name from the terror list.
She said she has no idea why De Vera was included in the list but suggested that his environmental advocacies – opposing mining operations and the construction of dams and coal-fired power plants in La Union and Ilocos – might have something to do with his inclusion.
In a statement, Kalikasan national coordinator Leon Dulce said the creation of a terror list is a form of red-tagging that endangers the lives of innocent people like De Vera. They claimed De Vera has been subjected to constant surveillance.
Dulce cited the killings of 9 people in Sagay, Negros Occidental as a clear example.
“Why is environmental defense and active citizenship seen as terrorism in the eyes of the Duterte regime? How much has the big mines, dams, and energy projects paid the Duterte government to crack down on environmental defenders and social activists,” he said.
Of the more than 600 individuals listed in the DOJ’s terror list, 4 have so far been cleared by a Manila court: UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Ibaloi lawyer Jose Molintas, National Democratic Front consultant Rafael Baylosis and former House representative Satur Ocampo.
Included in the list are Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, alleged communist group leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, and former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni.