27 September 2018

The middle-aged woman who recently decried the quarrying operations as the root cause of the landslide disaster* in front of President Rodrigo Duterte—right after he tried to divert blame only to the unnatural rainfall amount of the typhoon—has now been forced into hiding in sanctuary, according to local advocates in Cebu.

“The victimization of Nanay ‘Shiela’ for speaking truth to power in the face of Rodrigo Duterte is a victimization of all environmental defenders. It sends a message that exposing the accountability of big mines and quarries in disastrous injustices will get you life threatened,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

Duterte responded to Shiela’s bravery by accusing her as a “well-trained” member of the New People’s Army. Soon after, unidentified individuals began searching around for her in the relocation site and in the village she came from.

“We condemn the Duterte regime for cracking down on Nanay Shiela and so many other environmental defenders. They have terror listed, charged with strategic lawsuits against public participation, illegally arrested and detained, displaced, and ultimately murdered so many environmental defenders in the Philippines,” said Dulce.

“We stand with Nanay Shiela and other anti-mining and anti-quarrying activists who are facing reprisal from the Duterte government. We call on Congress, the Commission on Human Rights, and the international community to investigate these attacks against environmental defenders. We call for national and international pressure on the Duterte regime to call on them to back off from environmental defenders and submit itself to accountability,” Dulce concluded.#

*Erratum: The published statement earlier mentioned that the landslides were triggered by Typhoon Ompong. Subsequent review of the circumstances behind the landslide however revealed that Ompong has already left the Philippines when the landslide struck. There were only rains from local thunderstorms days before the landslide happened.