BATTALIONS of military troops and aerial bombing runs have recently been directed at anti-mining communities in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Batangas.
We are now seeing the full implementation of President Duterte’s pitiless declaration to “flatten the hills” in an all-out war against the communist rebels—and civilian communities are being targeted.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) clearly does not distinguish between defenseless peasants and armed insurgents.
Under the Duterte regime, a total of 23 environmental defenders have already been killed. Fifty seven percent (57%) of these cases involved anti-mining activists and community members, while 65% involved military, paramilitary, or police forces.
We environmental advocates join the rest of the Filipino public in condemning and opposing the worsening climate of impunity under Duterte. We demand for the pull-out of state armed forces from the communities defending the last bastions of biodiversity and natural wealth from corporations and other land grabbers.
Earnest peace talks with the communist rebels aiming to resolve long-standing injustices of landlessness, poverty, and economic displacement should be the solution, not heightened militarization.
It is in this spirit that we demand for the removal of big mines and other destructive projects away from these communities. Corporations and other big business interests who have extensive track records of rights violations, should never be allowed to operate on Philippine soil ever again.--Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on October 01, 2017.
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