AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People condemns the trumped-up charges of terrorism against Anasusa San Gabriel, and four other activists filed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Nueva Ecija.

Anasusa, or Anse as we fondly call her, is a staunch environmental defender who has tirelessly championed the rights and well-being of coastal communities in Bulacan. She has stood up with them in their resistance against development aggression, particularly the New Manila International Airport reclamation project (Bulacan Aerotropolis) of San Miguel Corporation, which poses the gravest threat to the lives, safety, and livelihoods of the local residents.

Since 2017, AGHAM has been working with Anse in the campaign against reclamation. In 2018, we witnessed the last remaining mangrove strips in Sitio Kinse, Brgy Taliptip Bulacan, where residents have considered home for decades, before San Miguel Corporation eventually wiped it out of the map to give way for their Aerotropolis. It was a living, thriving community of fisherfolks who depend on the bounty of the seas for a living. Anse’s dedication and steadfast work is instrumental in the founding of AKAP Ka Manila Bay, an alliance of peoples asserting for the rights to livelihood, dwelling, and livable environment.

Advocating for the environment and opposing destructive projects is not “terrorism”. The charges filed against Anse, Nathaniel Santiago, of Bayan Muna, Jun Luna of Anakpawis party list, and development worker Brenda Gonzalez of the NGO Ascent, under the Anti Terror Law are nothing but lies; an old, dirty, and dangerous state tactic to silence dissent and muzzle the voices of those fighting for environmental justice.

This echoes the harrowing experiences of other environmental defenders like Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro, who, despite being abducted by the state for helping the reclamation-affected communities in Bulacan and Bataan, were unjustly slapped with trumped-up charges. Such tactics, rooted in deception and coercion, are intended to tarnish the reputation of dedicated environmental defenders and activists to obstruct the noble efforts of people standing up against exploitative projects and policies that trample upon the fundamental rights of the people. These trumped-up charges add to the long list of state-sponsored attacks on environmental and land rights defenders in the Philippines, one of the deadliest country for environmental defenders in Asia for more than a decade.

We call for the immediate dropping of the fabricated cases and an end to the state’s attacks on environmental and human rights activists. It is only just to call for the junking of the terror Anti Terror Law.#


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