|Recent military bombings, strafing threaten endemic PH wildlife, key biodiversity areas — green group|
Seven key biodiversity areas (KBAs) and forest reserves in the Philippines, inhabited by dozens of endemic species, have been threatened by indiscriminate bombings, shelling, and aerial attacks undertaken by the Philippine military within the first year of the Marcos Jr. administration. These findings were revealed by the environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) in a forum held last May 24.“ Ten documented incidents of indiscriminate military operations over the past year, carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), have put communities and ecosystems at risk,” said Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE. “It is gravely concerning that these offensives are carried out with what seems to be zero consideration for the biodiversity found in these areas, as well as the communities dependent on these fragile ecosystems.”
Based on the group’s research, bombings, aerial strafing, and shelling operations have been carried out in the provinces of Cagayan, Kalinga, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Bukidnon since July 2022. These operations were carried out purportedly to target New People’s Army rebels. “What’s even more disturbing is that none of these attacks were even successful in striking their target,” said Bonifacio. “This means that the only real effect of these operations of the AFP has been to terrorize local residents and put the immense biodiversity of our country in danger.”
All of the documented attacks took place within or near key biodiversity areas or forest reserves. One incident involved a direct aerial assault on Mt. Hilong-Hilong in northeastern Mindanao, which has been identified as a key biodiversity area and home to critically endangered endemic species such as the Philippine eagle and Philippine cockatoo.
All in all, the group reported that at least 62 different endemic species and over half a million hectares of key biodiversity sites had been put at risk by the operations of the AFP, which Kalikasan PNE asserted has increasingly resorted to such destructive practices in recent years.“
We urge the Marcos Jr. administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately end their use of indiscriminate bombing and aerial attacks, especially in key biodiversity areas,” said Bonifacio. “We also call for increased support for research into militarization’s social and ecological impacts. This is so that we can gain a better understanding of the issue at hand.” The group also called for the Marcos Jr. administration to formally enter peace negotiations with insurgents in order to address the root causes of armed conflict. #
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