Environment, human rights defenders harassed by military in the world’s
third most dangerous country

Kalikasan PNE PRESS STATEMENT
21 July 2017

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE)
condemns in the highest terms the worsening harassment recently
experienced by environmental and human rights defenders Cristina Palabay
of Karapatan and Sherwin De Vera of Defend Ilocos from suspected
military agents.

De Vera, the coordinator of the regional environmental network in Ilocos
affiliated with Kalikasan PNE, reported that he was informed by his
family and friends from the University of Northern Philippines (UNP)
that military intelligence personnel came last Wednesday, July 19 and
inquired with the campus’ security department regarding his visit at the
UNP last Tuesday, July 18.

“This confirmed my hunch that I was being tailed as I went around Vigan
City,” said De Vera.

Meanwhile, Palabay, the secretary general of the human rights group
Karapatan, revealed to the public that she received a threatening
anonymous phone call last night telling her to cease her work, warning
her that “times have changed” as Martial Law is in place.

The mobile number used (0926 077 9448), after initial investigation by
colleagues, turned out to be a publicly announced hotline number of the
so-called Safety Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
in Cagayan de Oro province.

Karapatan has been the country’s leading voice for people’s rights
instrumental to the documentation and filing of appropriate charges
regarding various rights violations perpetrated against land and
environmental defenders in the country.

These are just the latest high-profile cases of clear rights violations
against environmental and human rights defenders in the Philippines
under the first year of the Duterte administration.

According to the Global Witness report on environmentalist killings in
2016, wherein Kalikasan PNE and Karapatan collaborated to generate
documented reports, the Philippines was the third deadliest country in
the world for land and environment defenders with at least 28 reported
killings.

Kalikasan monitored at least 18 environment-related killings under the
Duterte administration. The incidents of harassment from suspected and
known state forces were observed as clear preludes to the assassination
of environmental and land rights activists.

It is no wonder, then, that 47 percent of all 119 environment-related
killings monitored by Kalikasan since 2001 involve the same modus of
intense harassment and vilification by government armed forces prior to
riding-in-tandem assassinations or actual military and paramilitary
rampages.

As Palabay’s anonymous AFP caller himself boldly said, the imposition of
Martial Law across the entire Mindanao island group and the threat to
expand it to a nationwide scope is being used as a blanket justification
of the atrocities perpetrated by the Duterte government’s dogs of war.

We thus demand an immediate investigation and prosecution of the Cagayan
de Oro AFP safety battalion and the military intelligence personnel in
Ilocos Sur. We call on the Filipino public and the international
community to heighten pressure on the Duterte regime for its war against
the poor that has resulted in the death of thousands and the suffering
of millions.

We reiterate our calls for the junking of the Duterte government’s
Martial Law declaration and the longstanding counter-insurgency and
security programs directed against ordinary citizens and grassroots
communities.#

Reference: Leon Dulce, Campaign Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE 0917 562 6824

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