News / 20 September 2019

Call for solidarity with Philippine environmental rights defenders

We are shocked and alarmed by the news of a planned raid into the headquarters of an environmental organisation in the Philippines. Although the raid has not materialised until now, we are deeply concerned for their wellbeing.

The Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) was tipped by a reliable source last night that the office space of the environmental group was allegedly under surveillance by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and that a raid was pending, allegedly because the office was a front for the recruitment of rebels. Around the same time, build-up of police personnel in a nearby street was noticed and mentions of a planned raid in a nearby house were overheard.

Kalikasan PNE is a valuable partner of Both ENDS and the Dutch national committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN NL). As part of their work in Strategic Partnerships with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they have provided valuable inputs to the Manila Bay Sustainable Development Masterplan carried out in a Dutch-Filipino partnership, and are defending the rights of local farmers, indigenous peoples and local communities against the environmental damage and human rights violations linked to the mining sector.

Leon Dulce, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE states the following. "We condemn this red-tagging and threat against our rights as an attempt to crack down on our environmental defence. We have been ardent campaigners against destructive mines, dams, plantations, and land reclamations. We have exposed the violent attacks against Filipino environmental defenders. Is it a crime to defend the environment and our fellow defenders?" Kalikasan PNE suspects that the planned raids are a reprisal to their recent participation in the National Inquiry on Human Rights Defenders organized by the Commission on Human Rights. The group delivered a scathing report on the human rights situation faced by Filipino environmental defenders, which noticeably experienced a spike of killings under the past three years of the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte. "The Duterte regime must be held accountable for its unabated promotion of fossil fuels and destructive mining and other extractive projects that not only harm the environment, but to communities and defenders asserting their rights to their land and natural resources," said Dulce.

Both ENDS and IUCN NL, together with several of our partners, call on the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation and the Dutch Ambassador in the Philippines to express their concern to the Philippine government and to urge to refrain from any crackdown on organisations speaking out on environmental, human and women's rights. We also urge the Netherlands to work with other EU members states to effectively prevent further harm to civil society leaders in the Philippines.

For more information:

Enemies of the State? How governments and businesses silence land and environmental defenders (Global Witness; July 30, 2019).

Philippines is deadliest country for defenders of environment (The Guardian; July 30, 2019).

Agribusiness including Del Monte Philippines' growers implicated in violent attacks against indigenous groups (Global Witness; September 18, 2019) 

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