By Kalikasan PNE
Environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) joined the farmers from Southern Mindanao Region led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in a protest action today in Mendiola, Manila to condemn the worsening spate of killings among the farmers. The group said that of the recorded 117 environmental activists killed since 2001, almost 50 percent are peasant farmers.
“We are one with the farmers from Southern Mindanao in denouncing the worsening impunity by state forces against their communities. Farmers are the ones who are directly affected whenever destructive projects such as mining, megadams or plantations are constructed, it is the reason why they are also in the front lines against these projects, and extrajudicial killings have been the most convenient way for government forces to pacify them,” said Clemente Bautista, National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
The group noted that 11 of the 16 environmental activists killed in just nine months under the Duterte administration, including the recent four anti-plantation and anti-mining peasant activists from Compostela Valley province. Suspected military elements figured also in 11 of these cases.
“The rate of killings among environmental advocates including farmers under the Duterte administration is now higher than the previous administrations of Arroyo and Aquino. It seems the fascist military under the Duterte administration is intent to continue its business-as-usual of violating human rights for a living,” Bautista added.
“Military,police, paramilitary and private armed groups that serves as the protectors of big business interests are the primary suspects of these killings. AFP’s ‘All-Out War’ and counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan has been used as a tool to brutally suppress unarmed civilians in the countryside that are defending their land and livelihood,” said Bautista.
The group cited the previous statements made by the AFP that their unabated military operations were also to secure ‘vital installations’ in the countryside that include large-scale mines, plantations, and other big business projects.
“We have long been raising the issue of rising killings among farmers and environmentalist to the Duterte administration. There is still no move by the current administration to resolve the cases. Duterte should immediately stop its bloody streak and launch a full-blown national investigation of the various killings of environment defenders especially the peasant farmers,” Bautista ended.#