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Defend environmental defenders

Ecological Solutions, Not Crimes! 

Environmental Defenders, not Terrorists! 

Unity Statement on the Recent Crackdown on Environmental Defenders in the Philippines

November 8, 2019

We, environmental defenders of the world, stand with our fellow activists, defenders, and development workers in the Philippines who have been arrested for trumped up charges and those who continue to face harassment, threats and human rights violations perpetrated by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

On October 31, 57 activists, some of whom are land-rights defenders, were illegally arrested in Bacolod City. Thirty-five (35) of the arrested remained in detention and faced trumped-up charges. During the same day, women’s rights activist Cora Agovida and urban poor rights defender Michael Bartolome were arrested and charged for illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Manila City. The two have led communities in the fight against reclamation projects in Manila City.

On November 2, human rights and environmental defender Honey Mae Suazo was reported missing in Davao del Norte. She was feared to be a victim of enforced disappearance. Suazo was active in campaigns against large-scale mining and agricultural plantations in Mindanao amid military rule in the island region. 

This was followed by the arrest of community organizers and leaders Ram Bautista, Alma Moran, and Reina Nacino last November 5. These activists were ardent campaigners against coal stockpiles dumped in Tondo, Manila.

Humanitarian NGOs such as Oxfam Philippines and the Citizens' Disaster Response Center were also red-tagged by the Department of National Defense as a front of terrorist groups.  Environmental groups Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and Center for Environmental Concerns are experiencing harassment and threats of a raid from police forces for more than a month now. 

This is but the latest wave of continuing attacks against environmental defenders since a July 2019 Global Witness report said the Philippines as the most dangerous country for environmental defenders.

On August 6, Brandon Lee, a paralegal volunteer and anti-megadam activist working with indigenous people in Ifugao, was shot and critically wounded in front of his house. Brandon survived the assassination attempt and is still in hospital to date. 

On September 4, forest ranger Bienvinido Veguilla Jr was hacked to death by illegal loggers in the province of Palawan. 

On September 23, Cris Heredia, a people’s lawyer and anti-mining activist, was ambushed along with her daughter.This was 20 days after Cris and her environmental organization successfully reinstated a local ordinance which bans large-scale mining in the province of Capiz.

On October 25, Ronaldo Corpuz, another forest ranger operating in the province of  Nueva Ecija, was also shot dead. 

They are not criminals. They are our among the many individuals and organizations who are at the frontline of environmental defense in the country.

These continuing vilification, criminalization, killings and impunity must stop! 

We thus join hands and link arms in solidarity against all attacks directed at environment and human rights defenders. We will work together to use all human rights mechanisms to ensure our collective safety, care, and protection.

We demand the Duterte government to cease its militarization and human rights violations. The government must immediately lift the martial law declaration in Mindanao. We call on Congress to pass the Human Rights Defenders Act.

Lastly, we call for the conduct of an independent international fact finding mission.  We enjoin the United Nations and the rest of the international community to heighten efforts to hold accountable the Duterte Government for the relentless atrocities on the people.

Sign the unity statement


Ecological Solutions, Not Crimes! 

Environmental Defenders, not Terrorists! 

Unity Statement on the Recent Crackdown on Environmental Defenders in the Philippines

November 8, 2019

We, environmental defenders of the world, stand with our fellow activists, defenders, and development workers in the Philippines who have been arrested for trumped up charges and those who continue to face harassment, threats and human rights violations perpetrated by the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.

On October 31, 57 activists, some of whom are land-rights defenders, were illegally arrested in Bacolod City. Thirty-five (35) of the arrested remained in detention and faced trumped-up charges. During the same day, women’s rights activist Cora Agovida and urban poor rights defender Michael Bartolome were arrested and charged for illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Manila City. The two have led communities in the fight against reclamation projects in Manila City.

On November 2, human rights and environmental defender Honey Mae Suazo was reported missing in Davao del Norte. She was feared to be a victim of enforced disappearance. Suazo was active in campaigns against large-scale mining and agricultural plantations in Mindanao amid military rule in the island region. 

This was followed by the arrest of community organizers and leaders Ram Bautista, Alma Moran, and Reina Nacino last November 5. These activists were ardent campaigners against coal stockpiles dumped in Tondo, Manila.

Humanitarian NGOs such as Oxfam Philippines and the Citizens' Disaster Response Center were also red-tagged by the Department of National Defense as a front of terrorist groups.  Environmental groups Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment and Center for Environmental Concerns are experiencing harassment and threats of a raid from police forces for more than a month now. 

This is but the latest wave of continuing attacks against environmental defenders since a July 2019 Global Witness report said the Philippines as the most dangerous country for environmental defenders.

On August 6, Brandon Lee, a paralegal volunteer and anti-megadam activist working with indigenous people in Ifugao, was shot and critically wounded in front of his house. Brandon survived the assassination attempt and is still in hospital to date. 

On September 4, forest ranger Bienvinido Veguilla Jr was hacked to death by illegal loggers in the province of Palawan. 

On September 23, Cris Heredia, a people’s lawyer and anti-mining activist, was ambushed along with her daughter.This was 20 days after Cris and her environmental organization successfully reinstated a local ordinance which bans large-scale mining in the province of Capiz.

On October 25, Ronaldo Corpuz, another forest ranger operating in the province of  Nueva Ecija, was also shot dead. 

They are not criminals. They are our among the many individuals and organizations who are at the frontline of environmental defense in the country.

These continuing vilification, criminalization, killings and impunity must stop! 

We thus join hands and link arms in solidarity against all attacks directed at environment and human rights defenders. We will work together to use all human rights mechanisms to ensure our collective safety, care, and protection.

We demand the Duterte government to cease its militarization and human rights violations. The government must immediately lift the martial law declaration in Mindanao. We call on Congress to pass the Human Rights Defenders Act.

Lastly, we call for the conduct of an independent international fact finding mission.  We enjoin the United Nations and the rest of the international community to heighten efforts to hold accountable the Duterte Government for the relentless atrocities on the people.

Sign the unity statement

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Signatories

  1. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Philippines
  2. Center for Environmental Concerns, Philippines
  3. 350.org Pilipinas, Philippines
  4. UP Saribuhay, Philippines
  5. Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas, Phiippines
  6. AGHAM Science and Technology Advocates for the People, Philippine
  7. AGHAM Youth, Philippines
  8. Ecumenical Bishops Forum, Philippines
  9.  Aid Watch, Australia
  10. Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Australia
  11. Malaya, United States
  12. Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, United Kingdom
  13. Centre for Research and Advocacy, India
  14. Mining Justice Alliance, Canada
  15. MiningWatch Canada, Canada
  16. Centre for Community Economics and Development Consultants Society, India
  17. Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
  18. The Gaia Foundation, United Kingdom
  19. Adivasi Navjeewan Gathan Navjyoti Agua, India
  20. Community Resource Centre Foundation, Thailand
  21. NGO Federation of Nepal, Nepal
  22. Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Canada
  23. International Service for Human Rights, Switzerland
  24. Philippines Australia Solidarity Association, Australia
  25. The Alliance of Pastoralists from Aurunci and Ciociaria, Italy
  26. Center for Sustainable Community Development, Vietnam
  27. UBINIG, Bangladesh
  28. IBON International, Philippines
  29. Abibiman Foundation, Ghana
  30. Youth For Environment Education And Development Foundation, Nepal
  31. Rural Women’s Assembly, South Africa
  32. PA Alga, Kyrgyzstan
  33. Spirit of Eureka SA, Australia
  34. Earth Law Center, United States
  35. Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc., Philippines
  36. Water Justice and Gender, Philippines
  37. Integrated Rural Development Center, Bangladesh
  38. Myanmar Environmental Legal Services, Myanmar
  39. Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan, Philippines
  40. The Salvation Army, Philippines
  41. Redon Films, Pakistan
  42. Wild Migration, Australia
  43. Migrante Australia of New South Wales, Australia
  44. Community Initiatives for Development in Pakistan, Pakistan
  45. Global Witness, United Kingdom
  46. Kesatuan Nelayan Tradisional Indonesia KNTI, Indonesia
  47. Lights of Eyrene, Russia
  48. Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, Ireland
  49. Partenariat Recherches-Environnement – Médias (PREM), Guinea
  50. Salva la Selva, Spain
  51. Asociación Ambiental Petón do Lobo, Spain
  52. Legalrico Foundation for Business and Human Rights, South Africa
  53. ICCA, Guatemala
  54. University College London, United Kingdom
  55. Malaya Movement, United States of America
  56. Forum of women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan
  57. Alyansa Ng Mga Novo Vizcayano Para Sa Kalikasan, Philippines
  58. UNIMOS, Spain
  59. Brod Ecological Society, Croatia
  60. Sheffield Institute for International Development (SIID), United Kingdom
  61. Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), Philippines
  62. Good Electronics Network, Netherlands
  63. AMRC Blacklisted Working Moms Network, HongKong
  64. Anakbayan, United States
  65. Global Environments Network, United Kingdom
  66. Save our Sperrins, Ireland
  67. Yes to Life, No to Mining, Colombia
  68. UP College of Science Student Council, Philippines
  69. Ateneo Environmental Science Society, Philippines
  70. Milieudefensie, Netherlands
  71. Climate KIC, Serbia
  72. Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Netherlands
  73. Saribuhay UP Manila, Philippines
  74. Malaya Movement Texas, United States
  75. Brod Ecological Society-BED, Croatia
  76. Sheffield Institute for International Development, United Kingdom
  77. Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation, Philippines
  78. Good Electronics Network, United Kingdom
  79. Save Our Sperrins, Ireland
  80. AMRC Blacklisted Working Moms Network, Hong Kong
  81. ANAKBAYAN San Diego, United States
  82. Yes to Life No to Mining Latin America, Colombia
  83. UP College of Science Student Council, Philippines
  84. Friends of the Earth Europe, Belgium
  85. Mouvement Ecologique, Netherlands
  86. Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece
  87. Ateneo Environmental Science Society, Philippines
  88. Milieudefensie, Netherlands
  89. Climate KIC, Serbia
  90. Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Netherlands
  91. Saribuhay-UPM, Philippines
  92. Internationalt Forum, Denmark
  93. Milieudefensie, Netherlands