Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) revealed how large-scale mining projects and military operations in natural resource-rich areas were the biggest factors driving the extrajudicial killings and other attacks against Filipino environmental defenders during the ongoing National Inquiry on Human Rights Defender killings of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The major findings were as follows:

• Attacks against anti-mining advocates, comprise 58.3% of the monitored killings from 2001 to 2018, followed by agribusiness plantations with 27% and logging with 17%.
• State security forces and their force multipliers are either suspected or confirmed to be behind 65% or 144 of the total.
• Sudden spikes in killings were associated with new mining policies such as the Mining Revitalization Program and the Mining Executive Order of former presidents Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Noynoy Aquino, respectively. Duterte’s counter-insurgency policies caused the biggest spike.

“Large-scale mining and large-scale military operations are major factors that have made the Philippines the deadliest place in the world for environmental defenders. We urge the CHR to investigate the linkage of destructive policies on mining, agribusiness, and infrastructure with what is essentially the Duterte government’s ‘investment defense’ militarization of resource conflict areas,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, who delivered a report on the situation of environmental defenders before the CHR Inquiry today.

The report coincided with the opening of the annual International Mining Conference hosted by the Chamer of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), sponsored by mining companies that are “among the biggest human rights violators against environmental advocates such as Platinum Sponsors Nickel Asia and Taganito, and Gold Sponsors Filminera and Oceanagold,” according to the green group.

Kalikasan PNE proposed for the declaration of “Special Protected Areas in environmentally critical and natural resource-rich areas” where “destructive businesses and military and paramilitary groups will be prohibited from operating.”

They also proposed the requiring of a mandatory human rights due diligence on all projects applying in these areas.

Other highlight findings of the report were the following:

• Victims hail from the most marginalized sectors in the rural countryside, with 43.5% coming from small farmers and landless agriworkers, and 35.9% coming from indigenous people.
• They stood in defense of an estimated 2,669,850 hectares of important landscapes and seascapes.
• Mindanao is the ground zero of environmental defender hotspots with 50% of the cases occurring there, and 3 of the 4 provinces with the most killings being located in the restive island group.