Environmental HRDs in the Philippines pay heavy price for their activism

November 16, 2012

An excellent post in Davao Today by MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN highlights the life-threatening dangers to those who oppose land grabbing or destruction of the environment as well as the quasi-total impunity for the perpetrators.

She relates how Stella Matutina, a nun leading Mindanao’s environmentalists, demonstrates that trying to stop giant mining firms has become deadlier. Speaking during a public hearing initiated by Philippine legislators last week, Matutina rattled off glaring statistics to present what she termed as “the most salient and gravest trends” in human rights abuses under the Aquino government.

The numbers of slain victims were punishing: 32 leaders killed in two years, 24 of them indigenous peoples who opposed land grabbing in their ancestral domains. The numbers of victims sued by courts were deplorable: 159 individuals who face pending warrants of arrests, subpoenas, and other forms of “legal harassment and intimidation.” The numbers of displaced residents were glaring: about 1,017 families with 5,275 individuals, particularly in the regions of Caraga, Northern and Southern Mindanao, dislocated due to military encampments and operations. In all these, Matuina, convenor of the coalition, Panalipdan (English translation: Defend) Mindanao, lamented that “the state of impunity continues to this day.”

The “state of impunity” was coined by rights activists following the carnage notoriously known as Ampatuan massacre involving the murder of 58 individuals, 34 of them media practitioners in Maguindanao province three years ago. Impunity, the activists say, because perpetrators remain scot-free, if not, unpunished. Matutina added that extrajudicial killings, particularly of indigenous leaders and environment advocates in Mindanao, escalated “at a faster pace, compared to the same period under (former President Gloria) Arroyo.” A human rights victim herself, Matutina said her experience from the hands of the military was “of no consequence compared to the fate that befell other victims of human rights violations across Mindanao.” Three years ago, Matutina, dead-tired from a day of environment seminar with residents, was rudely woken from sleep and detained for several hours by soldiers belonging to the Philippine Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion in a far-flung village in Cateel town, Davao Oriental.  Soldiers tagged her as a New People’s Army rebel, an accusation which Matutina brushed off as part of her “determined advocacy” in protecting communities and the environment.

for the full story see:  http://davaotoday.com/main/2012/11/16/for-love-of-environment-advocates-pay-dearly/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: