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

29 March 2017

Compostela Valley a virtual ‘killing field’ of environment, land defenders

With his children watching, 48 year-old farmer-leader Pedro Pandagay was shot dead by suspected military elements inside his residence in Barangay Anitapan, Mabini, Compostela Valley in the early morning of March 23, 2017.

A board of director of the Golden Valley Banana Planters Association, Pandagay was part of the widespread people’s resistance against banana plantations and the mining exploration of the Australia-based One Asia Resources mining firm. Violent attacks against land and environment defenders have escalated in the province under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, with Pandagay being the 6th case of environment-related killings in the province and the 16th since Duterte came to power.

“We highly condemn the murder of Pedro Pandagay as the latest in the worsening spate of killings against land and environment defenders under the Duterte administration. The supposed ‘new thrust’ of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counter insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan is clearly no different from the previous administrations. The killings of environmental defenders spurred by militarization are at an even higher rate than the previous Arroyo and Aquino regimes,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

“The AFP’s Oplan Kapayapaan is a misnomer. Their all-out war has transformed Compostela Valley into a virtual killing field,” Dulce lamented.

Compostela Valley is known for its several agribusiness plantations and large-scale mining projects. These big business corporations are known to be highly destructive and pollutive to the environment, and continue to destroy and displace several communities in the province.

Just last March 27, three peasant activists active in land dispute struggles were also killed in separate occasions, also by suspected army intelligence operatives.

The AFP has categorically stated in past occasions that their unabated military operations were also to secure ‘vital installations’ in the countryside that include large-scale mines, plantations, and other big business projects.

Since 2001, there have been 117 cases of environment-related killings monitored by Kalikasan PNE. During Arroyo’s administration, killings reached an average of almost four cases per year, while the Aquino administration reached almost an average of 10 killings per year. The 16 cases of environment-related killings under Duterte occurred in just a span of nine months.

“We strongly urge the Duterte government to probe this alarming rise in killings and investigate the military, paramilitary, police, private armed security, and corporations involved in these cases. We are calling on the international community to help Filipino environmental activists demand accountability over the military’s impunity,” ended Dulce.

The group said they are also mulling the possibility of raising the spate of environment-related killings to the human rights bodies of the United Nations.#

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 920 90 99 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site: www.kalikasan.net