4 March 2020
Clemente Bautista Jr., International Networks Coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), whatsapp: +63.917.137.2930, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eufemia Cullamat, Bayan Muna Representative, email@example.com, +63.917.689.0917
Clarissa Ramos, Executive Director, Paghidaet sa Kauswagan Development Group, firstname.lastname@example.org, whatsapp: +63.946.205.3491
UN Special Rapporteur Boyd met with PH environmentalists, promised to promote safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment in the Philippines
After his report at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment David Boyd met Filipino environmentalists Clemente Bautista of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Clarissa Ramos conservation group Paghidaet Kauswagan Development Group (PDG), and indigenous leader and Bayan Muna partylist representative Eufemia Cullamat.
“It was an excellent meeting. Special Rapporteur Boyd promised us to help in strengthening the right of the Filipino people to safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment in the Philippines. We shared with him two pending bills that people’s organizations and communities are pushing to be legislated in Congress. These are the People’s Mining Bill and the Human Rights Defenders Bill which we believe will ensure not only a balanced and healthy environment for our people but also strengthen the safety and protection of our environmental defenders. We need this support particularly in this time under the present government where our ecosystems and natural resources are being wantonly devastated and depleted by big and foreign corporations,” Bautista said.
In his report to the UNHRC, David Boyd, in his response to civil society interventions including that of Kalikasan, said that he unconditionally condemns all acts of intimidations, harassment, criminalization, and violence on environmental and human rights defenders who are heroes for the planet.
Rep. Cullamat and Ramos told the Special Rapporteur the experience of indigenous people Lumad in Mindanao and peasants in Negros who are the ones protecting high biodiverse and environmentally critical areas but are also victims of human rights violations.
“Lumads are the stewards of the forest and defenders of indigenous people’s ancestral land. But our communities are being militarized to allow the entry of large-scale mining, commercial logging and agro-plantations. We are being displaced from our lands by corporations, our schools being shut down by the military,” Rep Cullamat narrated.
The Special Rapporteur was aghast to learn from the group that there were several Lumad families who were forced to evacuate because of militarization of their communities and more than a hundred Lumad schools that have been shut down by the Philippine government which affected thousands of students and many teachers.
Clarissa Ramos relayed the violations of peasant communities and environmental defenders in the island of Negros. “Until now we are under threat and receiving harassments because of our work in opposing environmentally destructive projects such as the proposed ship breaking project in Negros. Before my husband Attorney Ben Ramos of NUPL was murdered, he was very active in campaigning against the said project and helping peasants in asserting their rights. Though we continue in our advocacy, we feel unsafe and insecure as the state forces whom we expect to protect us are the ones who are harassing and threatening us.”
The Filipino delegates who are part of the EcuVoice delegation of NGOs asked the Special Rapporteur to support threatened environmental defenders by having a fact finding mission to the Philippines and pressure the Philippine government to strengthen laws on environmental protection and human rights. #
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.