We urgently call to end the ongoing airstrikes and aerial bombings by state forces in Mount Banoi, Batangas. The attacks that started since September 24, 2017 were conducted by the 202nd Infantry Brigade and the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force and may have already dealt significant adverse impacts to the ecological integrity of the fifth most biologically diverse mountain in the country.
Mount Banoi is also a critical watershed area which is among the main sources of potable water for the rest of the Batangas province. Several studies have already documented the impacts of military air strikes and bombings such as the degradation and destruction of wildlife and natural habitat. The bombings have already farmlands of the local residents.
More than 150 families from two barangays have already been forcibly evacuated and at least 15 schools from 13 barangays suspended since the bombings started. There were also initial reports that one elderly is missing and one child was killed. Relief and fact-finding missions were also barred from entering the communities.
It is also worth noting that Mount Banoi is rich in gold and is being threatened by large-scale mining operations of the Canadian company Mindoro Resources Limited (MRL) Gold since 2003. The mining operations have been strongly opposed by local communities headed by Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan (BUKAL), a multi-sectoral alliance composed of fisherfolk, peasants, church workers, scientists, environmental advocates and youth organizations.
We vehemently condemn these indiscriminate attacks. This is a clear act of tyranny and repression of the rights of the communities to a healthful and balanced ecology.
We reiterate our call for the government to end the ongoing aerial strikes and bombings in Mount Banoi. Just compensation should be given to the displaced families. Rehabilitation of affected agricultural lands and forests should also be done right thereafter. We also call for civil society organizations to give immediate humanitarian support for the affected families.