By Val De Guzman
According to a recent report published by Global Witness, the Philippines is not only the second most dangerous place for journalists, it is also the second deadliest country for environmental activists. According to the report they released last June 20, entitled On Dangerous Ground, documented that 185 killings of environmental activists around the world last year, nearly 60 percent more than in 2014 and the highest since it began collecting data dating back to 2002.
The findings of this report is attested with the recent killing of another environmental defender in Bataan, a province situated in the Central Luzon region, of the Philippines.
On the evening of July 1, the life of Gloria Capitan, a staunch anti-coal advocate, who led community in opposing a coal storage plant project near their neighborhood in Mariveles, Bataan came violent end.
Ate Glo, to people close to her, and to those who’ve had the privilege of working with her remember her friendliness and for having a genuine smile that met me many times whenever we have an activity or site visit at Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan.
She was the president of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin, a community-based organization that resisted the construction of a coal plant and open storage facility by Sea Front Shipyard Services Incorporated which is owned by Limay Bulk and Handling Terminal,
At 57 years old she was very active in the fight against coal, and even led her village last year in a series of mass actions and petitions calling for a permanent closure of the coal storage facility. For a living she ran a small karaoke cantina –the very place where her life was cut short last July 1, when she was approached at shot in the neck by motorcycle riding gunmen, while her 8 year-old grandson suffered a minor injury from a stray bullet on his arm.
If this is a message to silence other anti-coal activist like her, then they are mistaken.
Because on the ground where Ate Glo’s body fell, where the blood from her body flows more anti-coal activists will sprout. Instead of silencing us, it will only strengthen our convictions, that the evil menace of coal must end. And we will persevere in this fight and see to it that our children and the children of our children will be free from it.
Justice for Gloria! Stop the killing environmental defenders!
Val De Guzman, is a campaigner for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, a national movement consisting of national networks/alliances and local organizations representing basic sectors, grassroots communities in the Philippines that aims to lead the joint struggles, campaigns and actions in putting forward the climate justice framework as a fundamental element of solving the climate crisis.