Defend Environmental Activists: The Philippine Climate Crisis
QUEZON CITY – Two hundred people from Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and Power 4 People Coalition assemble in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office; highlighting the current state of human rights violations and killings of environmental defenders.
According to the Global Witness Report in 2018, the Philippines rank 1st in being the most dangerous place for environmental activists. Activists, at the forefront of stopping destructive mining operations, illegal logging and development aggression, have been the victims of intimidation, falsified legal suits, and violence.
"The Duterte administration's stand on human rights and the environment did not help. It only worsened the situation for locals in their fight to protect the environment," said Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas.
Last July 1, 2016, unknown shooters gunned down Gloria Capitan, an anti-coal activist from Mariveles, Bataan. Even indigenous peoples, stewards of the environment, have been targeted for their land. Last December 2017, military and paramilitary forces attacked a T'boli-Manobo tribe in Southern Mindanao, killing Datu Victor Danyan, the vi llage chief. Just this month illegal loggers brutally killed Bienvenido "Toto" Veguilla, Jr., a forest ranger from Palawan.
"Napakarami nang dumanak na dugo sa pagtatanggol ng lupa at kalikasan. Tigilan na ang pananakot at pagpatay sa aming mga katutubo," said Teresa Dela Cruz, LILAK-Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights.
(Too much blood has been shed in our struggle for land and environment. Stop intimidating and killing us, indigenous peoples.)
Development aggression and profit-seeking corporations have been the leading cause of these attacks. They have also been the reason for the current state of our environment.
"These aggressive development projects of corporations to increase their bottom line has pushed the planet to its ecological limit," stated Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator, ATM.
Development ventures such as large-scale mining and illegal logging have caused irreparable damage to the Philippines' forest and mountains. More so, bringing violence to communities.
"We call on the government to defend the people. To protect their homes, their water supply, their food source, and not to protect the corporations that bring violence," added Garganera.
ATM will continue to uphold and promote the rights of the environment and the people that defend it.