Suspected state forces abduct 2 environmental activists in Pangasinan

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Human rights groups staged a protest today, March 25, in Quezon City to condemn the abduction of Axielle “Jak” Tiong and Francisco “Eco” Dangla III, environmental activists/organizers, in Barangay Polo, San Carlos City, Pangasinan on March 24 at 8 p.m. by AFP and PNP agents. They demand the Marcos regime and its armed forces surface the two immediately.

Witnesses say the victims were abducted after an SUV blocked the tricycle they were riding. Two to three people from the SUV and another on a motorcycle mauled them and forced them into the vehicle, according to witnesses. Pieces of cloth torn from the victims’ clothings were said to have been left at the scene. Tiong was also heard shouting for help.

Dangla, 39, is a former student of the University of the Philippines and the current Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Pangasinan spokesperson. While Tiong, 29, a graduate of Universidad de Dagupan, is the Kabataan Partylist coordinator in the province. They are both conveners of the Pangasinan People’s Strike for the Environment, a group that stands against the black sand mining plan and the construction of a nuclear power plant in the province.

Even before the incident, state forces subjected Tiong and Dangla to relentless Red-tagging, surveillance, intimidation and other forms of harassment. This is similar to the usual pattern of harassment and subsequent abduction of activists and progressives.

“This is the 8th case of abduction of activists and human rights defenders in Central Luzon and Pangasinan. This reflects the worsening state of human rights under the Marcos Jr. government, which continues to silence critics against its anti-people programs and policies,” according to Bayan national office.

The group says they will hold the government accountable for any harm that happens to the victims. “The two should be safely returned to their families and friends,” the group added.

Friends, relatives, former classmates and comrades of the two victims issued widespread calls for the state to surface them. Many environmental groups are also calling for their safe return.

AB: Suspected state forces abduct 2 environmental activists in Pangasinan