Manila, Philippines — When Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano were abducted last month while volunteering with fishing communities opposed to reclamation activities in Manila Bay, human rights groups suspected the state was involved.
When the security forces claimed the pair had surrendered as communist rebels, their contemporaries believed they had been forced into doing so but were unable to prove it.
At a government-organised news conference, they got their answer.
Rather than going along with the official story, Castro, 23, and Tamano, 22, shocked everyone by announcing they had been abducted by military officers who had forced them to surrender.
“They were confident we would lie to the public,” Castro told Al Jazeera. “The important thing was for the public to know the truth.”
The two activists filed for a legal protection order after speaking publicly.
In the court filing, they accused military members of forcing them into an SUV, blindfolding them, and subjecting them to eight days of interrogation. Facing death threats from their captors, the two women were often brought to tears and feared for their lives.
“I was hoping we could get out alive,” Castro said. “But there was a possibility it wasn’t going to happen.”