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Jhed Tamano


Jhed Tamano is a Filipino woman human rights defender, serving as the program coordinator of the Community and Church Program for the Manila Bay of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum and volunteering for Akap Ka Manila Bay. She is known for her staunch opposition to human and environmental rights violations caused by land reclamation projects in Manila Bay, including the controversial construction of the US $15 billion New Manila International Airport (NMIA). Since the project received approval in September 2019, it has led to the displacement of hundreds of families, destruction of climate-critical habitats, and devastation of wildlife, as highlighted in a 2023 report by Global Witness.

On 2 September 2023, Jhed Tamano, along with Jonila Castro, another woman human rights defender, were abducted by four armed and masked men in front of the Orion Water District Office in Bataan province, North of Manila. They were forcibly taken into a grey sport utility vehicle, only to later discover that they were being held in custody by military personnel.

On 19 September 2023, after 17 days of disappearance,the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) released Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro, holding a press conference with them. The military attempted to present them as surrenderees of the New People’s Army (NPA), allegedly coerced into executing an affidavit of surrender. However, the two environmental women human rights defenders used the press conference to air their grievances, confirming that they were abducted by military forces, subjected to death threats, and endured 17 days of interrogation. Pressure from human rights organizations led to their prompt release.

On 29 January 2024, Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro were charged with slander or grave oral defamation by the military. The Department of Justice (DOJ) found sufficient evidence to pursue the case, initially charging them with perjury before dismissing the complaint. If found guilty, grave oral defamation carries a maximum punishment of 6-month imprisonment in the Philippines.

On 15 February 2024, the Supreme Court (SC) granted Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro writs of amparo and habeas data, along with a temporary protection order against members of the Philippine Army’s 70th Infantry Battalion, members of the Philippine National Police Bataan, and NTF-ELCAC, respondents in the case. The court acknowledged elements of enforced disappearance in their case. Despite the temporary protection order, the two women human rights defenders have revealed ongoing surveillance by state agents. They filed a petition for writs of amparo and habeas data and a temporary protection order on 28 September 2024.

On 21 February 2024, Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro posted bail for Php 18,000 against the grave oral defamation charge filed by the military. The granted writs did not directly affect the defamation case, which continued to trial. On the same day, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) requested the SC to review the writs of amparo and habeas data and withdraw the temporary protection order. The SC directed the Court of Appeals (CA) to conduct a summary hearing on the petition and other interim relief sought by petitioners.

On 22 February 2024, a preliminary conference in the CA for the issuance of a permanent protection order and the production order for the writ was postponed after the OSG sought an extension in filing their return.

On 14 March 2024, Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro filed a motion to quash before the Doña Remedios Trinidad Municipal Trial Court (MTC), aiming to declare a specific indictment, information, or charge against them invalid. The motion argued that the Doña Remedios Trinidad MTC lacked jurisdiction over the charges of grave oral defamation filed against them, stating that the alleged defamatory statements occurred at the Municipal Hall of Plaridel, Bulacan—not in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan. It also asserted that the MTC’s authority to try the case was nullified due to the infringement of their fundamental constitutional rights.

On 19 March 2024, the OSG failed to appear before the CA for the preliminary conference, citing the volume of documents it regularly receives. Meanwhile, Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro's legal counsel expressed concerns over compromising the right of the two women human rights defenders to a speedy trial.

The Doña Remedios Trinidad Municipal Trial Court deferred Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro’s pre-trial and arraignment to 25 April 2024, originally scheduled for 15 March 2024.

Before their abduction, the two women human rights defenders had reportedly experienced intimidation, harassment, and red-tagging—a smearing tactic used against human rights defenders—accusing them of belonging to the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party. This alarming incident underscores the dangers faced by human rights defenders working in the Philippines.