Posts Tagged ‘Stella Matutina’

Filipino nun wins Weimar human rights award 2015 for fight against mining excesses

August 11, 2015

<p>Sister Stella Matutina explains the threats of large-scale mining in Mindanao during a conference in Manila in early August. (Photo by Leon Dulce)</p>

Sister Stella Matutina explains the threats of large-scale mining in Mindanao during a conference in early August (Photo by Leon Dulce)

A Benedictine nun, Stella Matutina, is the recipient of Germany’s “Weimar Award for Human Rights” 2015 for her anti-mining advocacy in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.

Sister Stella Matutina has been recognized for “[engaging] herself extraordinarily for the rights of the native population, despite being exposed to permanent threats to her safety due to her engagements”. “This highlights the situation of Mindanao and the Philippines in general where the poor, the farmers, the indigenous peoples, the human rights activists and defenders of the environment endure harassment and face risks and death,” the 47-year-old nun told (Jefry Tupas, 7 August 2015) . More than a personal recognition, Matutina said the award acknowledges the “collective sacrifices” of freedom and environment defenders in the face of a “systematic effort to limit democratic space and security threats”.

Matutina has been a vocal opponent of attempts to convert the farmlands in Mindanao to plantation crops like palm oil, pineapples, and bananas. She has also led a campaign against the entry of large-scale mining companies in tribal communities in Mindanao. In 2012, the Philippine military labeled Matutina a “fake nun” and accused her of being a communist New People’s Army guerrilla. In 2009, soldiers detained Matutina and two other anti-mining activists in the town of Cateel in Mindanao for giving a lecture on environmental awareness to residents of an upland village. Early this year, authorities charged Matutina, other Church leaders and human rights activists with kidnapping, human trafficking, and illegal detention for taking care of displaced tribal people in the provinces of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon.

These are proof that helping the oppressed, the poor, the abused comes with great risks,” said Matutina, chairwoman of the Sisters Association of Mindanao and secretary-general of the environment protection group Panalipdan.

Since 1995, the Weimar Award has honored individuals or groups engaged in the fight for freedom and equality, the prevention and condemnation of genocide, the right to free speech, and the respect and preservation of political, ethnic, cultural and religious rights of minorities, among others. The award comes with a 2500,00 Euro stipend.

The same Weimar Human Rights Award went in 2000 to Father Shay Cullen of the Peoples Recovery Empowerment Development Assistance (PREDA) Foundation for his work defending the rights of children and women, victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation in the Philippines.

via Filipino nun wins German human rights award

worth noticing also is the language of Radio Vatican used in its own announcement:

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: