Environmental Defenders Are Not Terrorists!

March 22, 2018

Statement in support of fellow environmental defenders in the so-called “terror list” of the Philippine government


The Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines strongly condemns the inclusion of many environmental defenders in the so-called “terror list” of the Philippine government. This is a clear attack on the environment, and people’s civil and political rights. In this time of environmental crisis, those that protect it should be considered heroes instead of terrorists.

The Philippine government’s list includes a recent posthumous 5th Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (Environmental Heroes Awards) awardee and rights activist Francis Morales. Morales was the spokesperson of the environmental alliance of organizations Panalipdan Southern Mindanao. Before his death, Morales was also part of rehabilitation efforts in Typhoon Pablo-affected areas in Mindanao together with Barug Katawhan and Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pagpapaunlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG).

Also included in the list are internationally recognized activists and UN official like Victoria Tauli Corpuz, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Joan Carling, current Member and Co-Convenor of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group for the Sustainable Development Goals and former Secretary General of the Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP); Beverly Longid, current global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL); Windel Bolinget, National Co-convenor of KATRIBU National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines, and Elisa Tita Lubi, national executive member of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights) and former Regional Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).

Many of those mentioned are also founders of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), an alliance that continues to lead the struggles of indigenous communities in Northern Philippines. CPA is also a cooperating organization of the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan and was in fact an awardee back in 2009.

Also included in Duterte’s terrorist list are environmental defenders like Datu Isidro Indao, indigenous Matigsalog Lumad and council member of the PASAKA Lumad Confederation in Southern Mindanao; Zara Alvarez, research and advocacy officer of Negros Island Health Integrated Program and secretariat member of DEFEND Southern Negros; Sherwin de Vera, Regional Coordinator of DEFEND Ilocos and member of the Save The Abra River Movement (STARM); and Arnold Evangelista and Erlindo Baes of BUKAL-Batangas Unity for Mother Earth. These activists are in the frontlines resisting destructive projects like large-scale mining, dirty coal power plants and corporate land-grabbing in their communities.

“The terror list is a proof that the Philippine government is afraid of the growing people’s movement against foreign and oligarch-driven plunder of the environment. To tag fellow environmental defenders as terrorists is to discredit their achievements and discourage initiatives against corporate plunder of the environment. On the contrary, this will only highlight their heroism and inspire more acts of bravery,” said Owen Migraso, Executive Director of CEC.