May 15, 2011
“The Environmental Heroes Award given by the administration to the six environment workers is welcome. However, awards are not enough to honor the sacrifices made by environmental defenders who were killed in the line of duty. The perpetrators should be caught and justice should be delivered,” commented green activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment on the recent awards given by President NoyNoy Aquino and DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to four DENR workers, one volunteer and a police officer.
“We are dissatisfied with the Aquino administration for giving environmental awards and yet remain mum on the cases of past environmental killings, particularly, the 41 cases of environmental killings, of which six (6) happened under his administration. None of these cases have been solved,” said Ms. Marjorie Pamintuan, spokesperson of Kalikasan PNE and one of the convenors of Task Force Justice for Environmental Defenders.
From 2001 to 2011, Kalikasan PNE recorded 45 cases of human rights violations against environmental defenders out of which 41 were victims of killings. Under the Arroyo Administration, 35 environmental defenders were killed, two (2) were victims of attempted assassination and another two (2) were abducted and have not yet been surfaced. The remaining six (6) were killed under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino, including the Palawan radioman and environmentalist Dr. Gerry Ortega and botanist Leonard Co. Kalikasan PNE further noted that among the 6 reported cases of environmental defenders slain under the Aquino administration, 3 are mining-related cases: Gerry Ortega of Palawan, Rudy Segovia of Siocon, Zamboanga and Santos Manrique of Compostela Valley.
“The murder of the Kananga 3 is a sample of environmental killing under the current administration. Distinguished botanist Leonard Co and his two companions, Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo, were allegedly killed by the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion while doing biodiversity conservation work in the forests of Kananga, Leyte on November 15, 2010. They were mistaken by the Army’s 19th Infantry Battalion for armed communist rebels. Their families and colleagues continue to lament the silence of President Aquino on their deaths,” said Ms. Pamintuan.
“After the murder of Leonard Co, Gerry Ortega and four (4) others, violence against environmental defenders still continue under the Aquino administration. Elpidio “Jojo” Malinao is the 7th victim of environmental killings under the Aquino administration and the 42nd since 2001,” explained Pamintuan. Malinao is a forester of the University of the Philippines, Los Baños, Laguna.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of a fellow environmental worker. We condemn the killing of Malinao and urge the authorities to act swiftly and decisively. His death, along with the 41 others who were also killed in the line of duty, should not remain a mere statistic on the growing list of environmental killings.”
“The administration should stop being silent on the cases of slain environment defenders. We fear that the actual number of human rights violations against environmental workers is larger than our record. Especially in the far flung areas in the countryside where media coverage is almost non-existent, victims of human rights violation are helpless from the threats and violence of the perpetrators. We demand justice for Malinao and all the environmental defenders who were killed, abducted and abused,” ended Pamintuan
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE)