Justice for Palawan conservationist Jean Marc Messina and his family!

January 30, 2016

By Kalikasan PNE

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) strongly condemns the heinous killings of French national Jean Marc Messina, his wife Jewelyn Venturillo, and their four year-old son Guiliano Steffal Venturillo.

The three were recently found dead with gunshot wounds inside an abandoned pickup in Narra, Palawan. Until now, the police have no lead why the victims have been murdered and no suspect have been identified.

There can be no justification in the killing of Jean and his family.

Jean Marc is a known environmental advocate doing voluntary work in Palawan. He was very active in reef conservation in the municipality of Taytay. If he was murdered because of his environmental work, Jean Marc would be the fifth environmentalist killed in Palawan since 2005.

Others are indigenous people’s leader Abelino Sungit (February 2005), anti-mining activists Rev. Raul Domingo (August 2005) and Rabenio Sungit (September 2011), and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega (January 2011).

Messina was the 3rd foreign environmental advocate living in the Philippines killed under the Aquino administration. Before him was Italian priest Fr. Faustino ‘Pops’ Tenorio (October 2011) and Dutch lay-worker Willem Geerthman (July 2012).

The death of Jean Marc, and the continuing pattern of killings before it, validates the 2014 study by international NGO Global Witness, noting the Philippines as the 2nd most dangerous place in the world for environmental advocates.

In Palawan, people and organizations opposing ecologically destructive projects such as large-scale mining, palm-oil plantations, coal power plants, illegal logging, and other forms of ‘development aggression’ are being harassed and threatened with harm.

As of today, there are now 94 environmental advocates killed since 2001, including Jean Marc and his family. Aside from one case with a watered-down decision, all of these killings have not been resolved by the Aquino government. Most of the identified suspects and perpetrators of these killings remain scot-free.

Justice is so elusive in the Philippines. We hope the case of Jean Marc and his family will be the long sought-after break from the harrowing trend. We demand police authorities to step up efforts in identifying, and immediately arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators.

For us environmentalists, we must carry on with our advocacy despite the atmosphere of impunity. Plunderers continue to pillage our resources and despoil our environment. Our deeds in conserving and protecting our ecosystems and natural resources are our responsibilities to our beloved Philippines and its future generation. We were brave to commit to this cause—we must not, and we will not be cowed.#

Reference: Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE – 0922 844 9787