Environment-related killings continue: environmental advocate gunned
down in Ilocos

Kalikasan PNE press release

10 January 2017

While traveling along the national highway on his motorcycle, educator
and former environmental broadcaster Mario Contaoi was gunned down and
killed by an unknown assailant last January 7.

Contaoi, an instructor who taught at the University of Northern
Philippines in Vigan and a former commentator at dzNS Radyo Totoo
station, was known for tackling environmental issues and their links
with militarization in areas were destructive projects are located.

“We condemn the senseless killing of Mario Contaoi, who is the eighth
environmental advocate who has been killed under the Duterte
administration. There is a clearly persisting impunity facing
environmental defenders and other activists. An independent and
impartial investigation should immediately be conducted on the murder of
Contaoi,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan
People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

According to Sherwin de Vera, coordinator of Kalikasan PNE’s regional
network DEFEND Ilocos, “while the assailant’s motive(s) remains unclear,
the authorities must not discount his previous stint as radio
commentator and his sharp commentaries on environmental issues as
possible reasons for his murder.”

There are now at least 105 cases of environment-related killings
recorded by Kalikasan PNE since 2001. On average, killings under the
previous Arroyo administration reached almost four cases per year, while
the Aquino administration averaged almost 10 killings per year. In the
first six months of the Duterte administration, there are already seven
cases indicating almost triple the rate under Arroyo.

Kalikasan PNE noted that in a dialogue between Department of Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR) and environmental and indigenous people’s
leaders last October 2016, DENR Secretary Gina Lopez declared that she
will support an investigation of environment-related killings.

“We hope Sec. Lopez would help push the Duterte administration to
seriously probe the unabated killings of environmental advocates.
Ensuring the rights of environmental defenders and grassroots
communities should be an integral component of President Rodrigo
Duterte’s marching orders to stop environmentally destructive projects.
Destructive and pollutive companies will be emboldened to be even more
aggressive if its opponents continue to be subjected to fascist
attacks,” 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