Since it started, Kalumbay’s campaigns are centered in protecting ancestral domains against extractive industries, seeing that it is the poor and marginalized communities of the indigenous peoples who are always at the losing end of such activities. The organization are also calling for the disbandment of paramilitary groups and for justice for the slain Lumad leaders.
In recognition of the organization’s work, they were given the Most Distinguished Award in the 3rd Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan on 2013.
Currently, Datu Jomorito Guaynon, chairperson of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, and other 12 individuals are being detained after their arrest on July 4, 2018 during an ongoing meeting of Iglesia Filipina Independiente – Visayas Mindanao Regional Office for Development (IFI-VIMROD) volunteers at the Mother Francisca Spirituality Center, General Santos City. This assault to environmental defenders amount to the government protecting destructive agribusiness plantation and other projects in Northern Mindanao
On July 8, 2018, most of Gen San 13 were released on bail after posting bail last July 6, 2018. This was granted by the Municipal Trial Court in General Santos City. Emillo Gabales and Delia Catubay remained on detention, as authorities insisted on their alleged involvement in murder and frustrated murder cases and were thus considered high-risk individuals.
This is not the first that environmental defenders faced harassments from the Duterte regime. According to Datu Jomorito’s statement before arrest that they have recorded crackdown on people’s organizations, including fake terrorist lists, threats to people’s democratic rights and curtailment of basic civil and political rights.
There have been 56 extrajudicial killings of environmental defenders under the term of President Rodrigo Duterte and countless more harassments, illegal arrests, filing of trumped-up charges and other human rights violations. The Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines remembers the brave environmental heroes awarded in the biannual Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan to remind and inspire us to continue protecting the environment and people’s rights.