Philippines worsens as 2nd deadliest country for environmental defenders
in 2017

Kalikasan Press release

3 February 2018

With 41 land and environment-related killings recorded in 2017, the
Philippines was declared the second deadliest country for land and
environmental defenders in the world and deadliest in Asia in the recent
exclusive released by international advocacy group Global Witness
together with the British daily The Guardian.

In the special release, it was highlighted that “a broader crackdown by
the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, was a key factor” in the sharp
spike in murders of defenders opposing mainly big mining and plantation
interests.

“The Philippines went from third to second deadliest country for
environmental defenders in 2017 as we faced the bloodiest year ever for
environmental defenders. Duterte’s crackdown against dissenters and
critics clearly aimed to systematically uproot communities standing in
the way of coal blocks, metal explorations, and agribusiness ventures,”
said Leon Dulce, deputy national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s
Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), which served as one of the
local partner organizations of Global Witness.

The feature cited the case of indigenous Lumad chieftain Datu Victor
Danyan and seven other tribe members who were massacred by a composite
of the 27th and 33rd Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army back in
December 3, 2017.

The eight T’boli-Dulangan Lumad, which also included Danyan’s sons
Victor Jr. and Artemio, were tending to the agricultural lands they had
occupied in defiance to the land grabs of the DMCI company’s large-scale
coffee plantation and the proposed 2,000-hectare coal mine, both located
within their ancestral lands.

The military had claimed Danyan and his fellow Lumad were members of the
New People’s Army, but a fact-finding mission held last December 16-17,
2017 by Kalikasan PNE’s regional network Alliance for Genuine
Development (AGD) and human rights group Karapatan confirmed the
incident to be a massacre of civilians.

The Commission on Human Rights in Region 12 (CHR-12) subsequently
affirmed the mission findings in docketing the massacre as a Martial
Law-related case.

“All regions of Mindanao are suffering from the yoke of military rule,
with 63 percent of our monitored environment-related killings under
Duterte occurring in the besieged island. It is also no surprise that 59
percent of all cases under Duterte involved suspected or confirmed state
armed forces,” said Dulce.

Kalikasan PNE said the Duterte administration has done little to
recompense indigenous people and other environmental defenders who have
experienced violence and human rights violations for opposing
extractives and other destructive projects.

“At least 20 of the 28 big mines that were up for closure or suspension
during Duterte’s first year had a history of extrajudicial killings,
militarization, or other atrocities within their areas. The Office of
the President itself prevented the closure or suspension of all these
big mines. Our forests, watersheds, and agricultural lands continue to
be plundered and the rights of our fellow environmental defenders
continue to be trampled,” Dulce pointed out.

Global Witness senior campaigner Ben Leather said in the Guardian
exclusive that “until communities are genuinely included in decisions
around the use of their land and natural resources, those who speak out
will continue to face harassment, imprisonment and the threat of murder.”

Kalikasan PNE said that while it has supported the legal defense of a
number of environmental defender cases in 2017, the attacks were too
widespread and systematic and necessitated equally thoroughgoing
measures for accountability and justice.

“The Duterte government must be held accountable for its wanton
militarism against environmental defenders and other civilians. Its
military investment defense forces and paramilitary mercenaries for
corporations must be dismantled. The big mines and other ecologically
destructive companies that have benefited from this violence must be
immediately stopped and investigated,” ended Dulce.#

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 356 21 66 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net