UN Environment, other int’l environment groups hit Duterte ‘hit list’

Kalikasan PNE press release

17 March 2018

A number of international environmental organizations, including the
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have added their
voice to the growing international community expressing deep concern and
condemnation over the inclusion of several environmental and human
rights defenders in a list of 649 individuals the Department of Justice
(DOJ) accused as ‘terrorists.’

These pronouncements were welcomed by the Kalikasan People’s Network for
the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), a national environmental activist
alliance whose local affiliates in the regions of Cordillera, Negros,
and Mindanao, among others, were included in the list.

“The UN Environment, IUCN, and various other international environmental
groups have lent their voice to our fellow environmental defenders,
including a UN special rapporteur, wrongly accused by the Duterte regime
of being terrorists. Duterte’s dangerous ‘hit list’ should immediately
be revoked and its chief architects should be held accountable,” said
Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

Among those included in the so-called ‘terror list’ were UN Special
Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and
Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development focal person
Joan Carling, alongside other well-known indigenous Igorot leaders and
civil society figures from the Cordillera People’s Alliance, a local
affiliate of Kalikasan.

It also included Datu Isidro Indao and several other indigenous Lumad
leaders based in the Pantaron Range, a mountain range classified by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a ‘Key
Biodiversity Area,’ as well as Defend Ilocos coordinator Sherwin de Vera
and Defend Southern Negros secretariat member Zara Alvarez, and BUKAL
Batangas members Arnold Evangelista and Erlindo Baes, all affiliates of
Kalikasan as well.

UN Environment head Erik Solheim said “these charges must be dropped
immediately,” expressing that “it is deeply concerning that authorities
have routinely responded to the expressions of environmental and human
rights defenders by criminalizing and delegitimizing their voices.”

“The shrinking space available to independent people to carry out
legitimate work and to speak on behalf of many voiceless indigenous and
local communities globally is an issue that must be addressed through
increasing openness and participation,” Solheim furthered.

IUCN Director General Inger Andersen noted that “the Philippines
ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and call on
President Duterte and the broader government authorities to immediately
annul this unacceptable action and to issue apologies and regrets to all
concerned.”

IUCN observed that the particular accusation against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz
came after her public comments concerning the killing of indigenous
Lumad peoples by members of the Philippine armed forces in Mindanao.

Kalikasan PNE noted that the inclusion of environmental defenders in the
terror list makes them open game to illegal arrest, detention, and even
extrajudicial killings by armed state forces.

“Being classified as an ‘enemy of the state’ in the Philippines is
dangerous, as 96 of the at least 159 environment-related killings we
monitored since 2001 were attributed to state armed forces. That’s six
out of every ten murdered environmental defender. We fear this
terror-listing might be aimed at systematically dismantling the
strongest corridors of resistance against natural resource plunder and
wholesale land grabs,” explained Dulce.

London-based international watchdog Global Witness earlier this year
declared the Philippines as the second deadliest country in the world
for environmental and land defenders, noting of at least 41
environment-related killings in 2017 alone.

“We demand that the Duterte regime retract this atrocious terror
listing. Defending the environment is not a crime, much less an act of
terrorism. Duterte and his cohorts in government must be investigated
and held accountable for their crimes against environmental defenders
and the rest of humanity,” Dulce concluded.#

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 356 21 66 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net