26 Matulungin St. Central Dist., Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel./Fax; +63 (2) 920-9099; E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net  Website: www.kalikasan.net

21 September 2016

Recent string of rights violations vs environment defenders by AFP a sabotage of peace efforts, green group says

Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) expressed alarm over the breaking reports extrajudicial killings, illegal detention, and other human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by military agents in the regions of North Luzon and Southern Mindanao.

“We have just received reports of the illegal detention of John Claudio Maniquez, a young environmental defender who is part of our local affiliates in Compostela Valley, by elements of the 46th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army while two of his companions have apparently been forcibly disappeared. Three other peasant farmers opposing environmentally critical projects were killed in separate incidents in North Cotabato and Isabela. The military and private security of corporations seem to be sabotaging the ongoing peace efforts with this continuing militarization in areas where destructive projects are found, and environmental advocates are suffering for it,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Maniquez, a 21 year-old peasant youth who is member of the local environment group Panalipdan Youth – Pantukan, and his two companions who were identified in the initial reports as ‘Bla’ and ‘Iking’ were just putting up posters announcing a local peace forum  last September 19 when they were tailed by military soldiers and later on illegally arrested.

A certain Sgt. Domingo R. Ygat of the 46th-IBPA reportedly filed a complaint against Maniquez for his alleged illegal possession of a magnum 357 revolver and being an alleged member of the New People’s Army.

“The ludicrous complaint that Maniquez was an armed NPA member has been a tried-and-tested technique of the police and military to harass activists and citizens. We see no other reason for the detaining of Maniquez except their continuing opposition to the entry of the large-scale mining project of the Villar-owned company Nadecor together with United States-based St. Augustine Copper & Gold Ltd.,” said Dulce.

Earlier, peasant groups reported the killing of Ariel Diaz, a peasant leader of DAGAMI-Delfin Abano who have led opposition to land grabs by German solar firm LP4P and various plantation and contract farm interests, last September 8 by suspected military or private goons.

Days after on September 16, two El Nino-affected farmers were fired upon by paramilitary group Bagani in Sitio Kiatao, Brgy. Lanao Kuran, Arakan. The still unnamed farmers, who were husband and wife, were confirmed to have died from the shooting.

“This recent spate of killings involving peasant farmers defending their lands and demanding justice from worsening climate impacts brings the number of cases of political or extrajudicial killings of environmental defenders that we have recorded since 2001 to 99. Of these almost a hundred incidents, five cases occurred already under the Duterte administration,” noted Dulce.

Kalikasan PNE said they will closely coordinate with their local affiliate organizations in working for the release of Maniquez and the confirmation of his companions’ whereabouts. They also reiterated their calls on the Duterte administration for the accountability and eventual dismantling of paramilitary groups, and the pull-out of military and paramilitary forces from areas threatened by extractive projects.

“A possibility we are considering is the filing of complaints before the joint monitoring committee of the GRP-NDFP peace talks. We want to discuss to the two negotiating parties these recent human rights violations and the worsening rights situation of environmental defenders in confronting the intertwined attacks of state militarization and natural resource plunder,” ended Dulce.#

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 433 0184 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net