Court issues arrest warrant vs 2 environmental activists
February 20, 2024

An arrest warrant against environmental activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro has been issued by a municipal trial court (MTC) in Bulacan.

The warrant, dated Feb. 2, 2024, was released by the Doña Remedios Trinidad MTC, and pertains to charges of oral defamation, which the Department of Justice had filed in December 2023, in place of the perjury charges earlier filed against the two activists.

The arrest warrant stated that both Castro and Tamano can post bail of P18,000 each. However, if found guilty, they may face imprisonment for up to six months.

This development comes days after the Supreme Court granted Castro and Tamano the writs of amparo and habeas data, along with a temporary protection order. The decision was made as the high court found that there was a violation to their life, liberty, or security.

Atty. Dino De Leon, legal counsel for Castro and Tamano, clarified that the arrest warrant and the protection order issued by the Supreme Court are not connected with each other.

In a message sent to Altermidya, Atty. De Leon said, “The warrant is not connected with the protection order. They are independent from each other. As of the moment, we have not officially received a copy of the warrant yet.”

Castro and Tamano were reported abducted by state forces in September 2023, and were later “resurfaced” and presented as “rebel returnees” in a press conference arranged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

During the said press conference, the two environmental activists bared that they were abducted and held captive for weeks.

Arrest warrant condemned
In a statement, the Hands Off Jhed and Jonila Network condemned the release of the arrest warrant against the two environmental activists.

“Balak muling ipagkait sa dalawa ang kanilang kalayaan at karapatan matapos ibaba ang panukalang arestuhin sila sa kasong oral defamation. Sa kabila ito ng pinanigang pasya ng Korte Suprema para garantyahan ng proteksyon ang dalawa,” the group said.

The Hands Off Jhed and Jonila Network added that it is ironic that the victims of abduction are the ones facing possible arrest now.

“Dapat panagutin ang mga may sala, hindi ang mga biktima,” the group stressed.

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