As Earth Day approaches: DOJ castigated over failure to resolve killings of environmental activists

Kalikasan PNE and TF-JED press release

20 April 2015

Days before the celebration of the 2015 Earth Day, environmental and
human rights advocates held a picket protest at the Department of
Justice (DOJ) castigating what they said was the ‘dismal performance’ of
public officials over the growing number of political killings and other
human rights violations or HRVs towards environmental activists.

“The families, friends and comrades of environmental activists recorded
to have been politically killed since 2001 are surely disappointed that
five years have gone by under the current Aquino administration with
still no resolution to their cases. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima
seems to have spent a great deal of her office time lawyering for the
various crimes of the Aquino government instead of working on their
mandate to deliver justice to the various HRV victims,” said Leon Dulce,
campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the
Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and spokesperson of the Task Force-Justice
for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED).

The TF-JED has recorded at least 83 cases of extrajudicial or political
killings since 2001, and has noted that more cases have now been
recorded under Aquino (47) over the previous Arroyo regime (36). None of
these cases have been resolved to date.

“Secretary De Lima and President Noynoy Aquino should be held
accountable for virtually promoting a culture of impunity towards
environmental defenders. Five years of inaction over the various
outstanding killings of environmentalists have set a precedent for
normalized violence towards people and communities who are justly
struggling to defend their lives, environment, and access to resources,”
lamented Dulce.

Highlight cases, including the killing of botanist Leonard Co and the
rest of the Kananga 3, the illegal detention and trumped-up charges
against physicist Kim Gargar, and the bloody Lacub Abra killings which
include NGO worker Engr. Delle Salvador, have been filed in the upcoming
2015 International People’s Tribunal.

Convened by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the
Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the
National Lawyers Guild, and Ibon International, among others, the IPT
2015 aims to expose ongoing violations of the Filipino people’s rights
and hold perpetrators of these HRVs accountable before the international
community.

“If our justice system will continue to serve as a tool of repression
that has made environmentalists into an ‘endangered species,’ then it
leaves us no other recourse but to seek justice in higher venues of
struggle. The IPT is one such venue where the peoples of the world can
be the judges who will not allow themselves to be cowed by the wheeling
and dealing of corrupt and tyrannical politicians,” explained Dulce.

“Let us not forget our environmental heroes this coming Earth Day. Let
us make its commemoration meaningful by committing to continue searching
for justice for our environmental martyrs and for the accountability of
the Aquino government over these continuing crimes towards the people
and the environment,” ended Dulce.

Reference: Leon Dulce – 0917 562 6824

Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: +63 (2) 924 8756 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net