PRESS RELEASE
23 January 2017
 
With murder of Surigao indigenous leader, environment defenders killed under Duterte gov’t now at 10
 
Environment defenders decried the killing of Veronico “Nico” Lapsay Delamente, a 27 year-old indigenous Mamanwa leader in the province of Claver, Surigao del Norte who was a known leader of the people’s opposition to the plethora of large-scale mining operations across the province, saying his death was the tenth case of environment-related killings monitored under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
 
“Nico Delamente was an outspoken critic of the various large-scale mines owned by Nickel Asia-Sumitomo and other companies that continue to encroach into their ancestral lands. We condemn the Duterte government’s perpetuation of bloody impunity against environment defenders, as Delamente is already the 10th victim of environment-related killings under the Duterte administration,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) and spokesperson of the Task Force – Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED).
 
The TF-JED, a network of families and supporters of environmental martyrs, has now recorded at least 108 cases of political killings involving environment defenders since 2001. Delamente is the third case recorded this month alone, including environment broadcaster Mario Contaoi in Ilocos Sur, and Datu Vennie Diamante, an indigenous leader in South Cotabato who opposed the entry of palm oil plantations in their areas.
 
“At least 48 percent of the recorded killings involved suspected military and other state armed forces. The widespread militarization by the Armed Forces of the Philippines especially in environmentally-affected areas continued to inflict fear and violence among communities across provinces where environmental struggles are active,” said Dulce.
 
Delamente was an active member of the Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong mga Organisasyon (KASALO) – Caraga, a regional indigenous Lumad organization that is part of Kalikasan PNE’s Mindanao network. He was also a council member of AMPANTRENTO, a Lumad people’s organization in Claver under Datu Renante Baklas recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).
 
KASALO Caraga said in a statement that Delamente publicly raised issues of corruption involving the 1% royalty awarded by mining companies to the Lumad and the NCIP. They also noted that Delamente and the rest of AMPANTRENTO filed charges at the Office of the Ombudsman against Congressman Prospero Pichay, an owner of one of the operating large-scale mines in Claver, for forcibly evicting Lumad-Mamanwas from his mining concession.
 
“Environment Secretary Gina Lopez promised last year to help probe recent environment-related killings. It is becoming apparent that the Duterte government heeds no concern as there is still no investigation, no arrest of suspected perpetrators, and no prosecution pursued. We demand Pres. Duterte and Sec. Lopez to take immediate action in investigating the recent cases and the corporations that stood to gain from the killing of environment defenders,” said Dulce.
 
“Despite Duterte’s pronouncements against destructive mining, these killings are a result of a still unabated government policy to prioritize interests of big mining corporations over the welfare and security of our communities and environment. If Duterte’s rhetoric on mining turns out to be yet another broken promise and large-scale mining continues more-business-as-usual, expect mine-affected communities to continue to be killing fields,” ended Dulce.#

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