“He left the safety of our supportive and loving hometown to serve the Lumad and their struggles for self-determination and to protect their ancestral lands from mining companies.”
By DANIEL ASIDO
MANILA – A volunteer teacher and champion of Lumad rights was awarded as the “Most Distinguished Awardee” during the 7th Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan on Wednesday night.
Chad Booc, along with two other activists, were killed earlier this year. The military said they were killed in an encounter but locals in the area said there was no armed clash that took place. This was corroborated by an independent autopsy, which revealed that he and his companions were not combatants.
Read: After 5 days, kin retrieve remains of Chad Booc, 2 others
Read: Autopsy on Chad Booc shows state agents’ intent to kill
Booc has long been at the fore of championing the rights of the Lumad, the children most especially. He is among those who established the Save Our Schools Network that placed a spotlight on the Lumad children’s right to education amid attempts to shut down schools that were put up by the Lumad, through the help of volunteers, and humanitarian and church groups.
He also campaigned against the militarization of Lumad communities in many parts of Mindanao.
“For his works and sacrifice, Chad was red-tagged numerous times under the Anti-Terrorism Law. He was detained and eventually killed by our own state forces. My brother is not a terrorist. He is a humanist who believed in the ideals of equal rights for all humans regardless of origin, religion or culture,” Chad’s sister, Jenna, said.
Prior to his killing, Booc was repeatedly red-tagged.
“[Chad] left the safety of our supportive and loving hometown to serve the Lumad and their struggles for self-determination and to protect their ancestral lands from mining companies,” Jenna said.
“He is an environmentalist, who, like many from his generation, believed in protecting the environment against climate change. He is a political activist who puts words into action,” she added.
Other awardees for the Individual categories of the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan are activist, journalist and environmental advocate Vertudez “Daisy” Macapanpan, Filipino-American Geologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, and sustainable development advocate Daniel Jason Maches.
The organizations that were recognized were Tumandok: Indigenous Peasants in Defense of Land and Life, Masungi Georeserve, and Samahan ng mga Mangingisda at Mamamayan sa Latian ng Bulakan.
The 7th Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan was organized by Center for Environmental Concerns, a biennial awards event and lecture series honoring Filipino heroes who have defended the environment and people’s rights. (RTS, JJE)