Red-tagging, vilification of land and environment defenders in Nueva Vizcaya and other provinces of Cagayan Valley, Philippines

Thursday, October 25, 2018

We in the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) urgently request your support for Filipino land and environment defenders and other activists across the region of Cagayan Valley who have recently faced a systematic campaign of vilification and harassment from suspected military intelligence operations from October 12 to 16, 2018.

Last October 12, 2018, the Cagayan Valley chapter of the Karapatan – Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights received reports that leaflets and streamers were scattered around several towns in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, and Cagayan implicating the names of leaders and members of peoples’ organizations as “leaders and recruiters” of the communist rebel group New People’s Army (NPA).

These are organizations that have led protest movements against land grabbing and environmental destruction pushed by large-scale mining projects such as illegal gold mining in Isabela, black sand mining in Cagayan, and large-scale gold mines in Nueva Vizcaya.

On October 15 to 16, 2018, the Alyansa ng Novo Vizcayano para sa Kalikasan (ANVIK), the provincial member organization of Kalikasan, monitored a second wave of leaflet distribution and streamer hanging in the towns of Solano, Diadi to Bagabag.

This time, leaflets included a new list of names of 27 environmental defenders, including public interest lawyers Atty. Fidel Nemenzo and Atty. Ed Balgos, and scientists Finesa Cosico, Alfonso Shog-oy, and Tess Acosta who are supporting the campaign against the large-scale mining operations of Australian-Canadian multinational corporation OceanaGold.

This ‘red-tagging’ is part of a vicious textbook pattern employed by the military where activists are repeatedly vilified to justify a series of attacks that include harassments, intimidation, arrest, strategic lawsuits against public participation, and ultimately extrajudicial killings. Elements of the 84th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army engaged in a similar vilification campaign last September 2017 in the town of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, where Oceanagold’s mining project is located.

The recent massacre of nine (9) sugar plantation workers in the town of Sagay, Negros Occidental province last October 20 was preceded by a similar red-tagging campaign by the military since April 2018 accusing the land occupation and cultivation areas of the workers as NPA communal farms.

We urge our fellow environmental and human rights defenders to take action on these clear attacks against the just and legitimate struggles of land and environmental defenders in the resource-rich valley region.

We invite you to send a letter of concern through mail, email or fax calling for:

1. The immediate investigation of the systematic red-tagging campaign to be conducted by an independent body;
2. The immediate investigation into the accountability of OceanaGold for its possible complicity in these human rights violations;
3. An end to the harassment and vilification of environmental defenders, human rights defenders, and members and leaders of progressive organizations;
4. An end to the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan which encourages State security forces to threaten, harass, arbitrarily and illegally arrest defenders tagged as ‘enemies of the State’;
5. The Philippine Government to continue the peace talks and build towards the advancement of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which includes stronger regulations of the large-scale mining industry and the institutionalization of widespread environmental protection, rehabilitation, and compensation measures;
6. The Philippine Government to pursue its commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which includes the right to freedom of thought and expression, freedom of conscience, political beliefs and practices and the right not to be punished or held accountable for the exercise of these rights, and the right to free speech, press, association and assembly; and
7. The Philippine Government to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/

Hon. Jesus Dureza
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
Email: stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net

Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph

Hon. Menardo Guevarra
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline: 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: communications@doj.gov.ph

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE)
#26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel.: 356-2166
Email: secretariat@kalikasan.net
Reference: Leon Dulce, National Coordinator

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(at)kalikasan(dot)net | Site: www(dot)kalikasan(dot)net