7 December 2018

The recently-concluded First National Environmental Defenders’ Conference, a historic gathering of around 100 environmental defenders from across the country, raised its collective opposition to the impending third extension of Martial Law over Mindanao, the conflict-torn island where 71 percent of recorded environment-related killings under President Rodrigo Duterte has been perpetrated.

We still remember the deaths of Datu Victor Danyan and seven of his kin and tribe, massacred by the Philippine Army as they were tending to the farmlands they reclaimed from the Consunji-owned coffee plantation last December 3, 2017.

We recall how Compostela Valley has been transformed into killing fields of defenders opposing big mining and plantations with at least 16 environmental defenders killed in the province, majority killed after Martial Law was declared in Mindanao. One after another, Rodrigo Timoteo and other leaders of the Compostela Farmers Association were methodically murdered for waging a barricade against the entry of Agusan Petroleum and Mineral’s mine exploration equipment.

When environmental educator and current Lumad school director Meggie Nolasco recently moved with other rescuers to save Lumad children from the attacks of the notorious Alamara paramilitary group, the authorities had the gall to arrest and slap them with fabricated kidnapping and child trafficking charges. The Salugpungan Ta Tanu Community Learning Center Inc. (STTCLCI) and its partner communities stood in the way of Alsons’ logging operations before. Today, STTCLCI still stands as a sentinel blocking the entry of various mining applications despite these attacks.

These atrocities, bordering on the absurd but more qualified as brutal insanity, are the emblematic cases that typify Martial Law. It is a blanket order to violently repress the dissenters and naysayers. The Conference sees Martial Law and other fascist policies of Duterte as bloody investment guarantees for the big mines, dams, power plants, and plantations.

We reiterate our call to declare these biodiversity and natural resource corridors as special protected areas that should prohibit both destructive projects and the mercenary military that secure these so-called vital installations. We reiterate our strong position against this counter-insurgency crackdown against our legitimate democratic demands. We say never again to Martial Law. #

Leon Dulce
National Coordinator
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
Co-organizer, First National Environmental Defenders’ Conference