Philippine environmentalists arrested


Sixteen environmentalists from the island of Palawan in the Philippines have been arrested and charged with subversion. They are members of Haribon-Palawan, a well-known and respected organisation which is cosponsoring with Friends of the Earth an ethno-environmental project in Palawan.

The Philippine National Police and the U2 West Command (a military intelligence arm) of Palawan arrested the environmentalists in simultaneous raids in the early morning of February 15 in Puerto Princesa.

Haribon-Palawan issued a statement on the arrest saying that Palawan is a peaceful province and that the police "should look into illegal logging, illegal fishing, gambling, and other illegal activities" rather than harassing popular organisations.

Haribon-Palawan's difficulties with the authorities began after members questioned the apparent involvement of a Marine battalion in the illegal export of timber. Their attorney said the arrests were apparently aimed at discouraging Haribon from exposing the collaboration among politicians, military and illegal loggers in Palawan.

Messages should be sent to President Corazon Aquino, Malacanang Palace, Manila, Philippines (fax 632 712 4100) or Secretary of National Defense Fidel Ramos, Camp Crame, Quezon City, Philippines (fax 632 794 133).

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