Joan Carling, who has been at the forefront of the conflict for land and the environment for more than 20 years, won the Champions of the Earth award for lifetime achievement.
UN Environment
Rights defender on gov't terror list gets UN award
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - September 27, 2018 - 1:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations has given its highest environmental honor to Joan Carling, a defender of environmental and indigenous rights whom the Philippine government wants officially declared a terrorist.

Carling, who has been at the forefront of the conflict for land and the environment for more than 20 years, won the Champions of the Earth award for lifetime achievement.

The UN said it is the body’s highest environmental honor given to “six outstanding environmental changemakers,” which include French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The environment is part of our life. When our lands and resources—which we have protected for centuries, are being taken away for mining, for dams, for agribusiness—our reaction, of course, is to defend this,” Carling said in a video posted by UN Environment.

She added: “For indigenous peoples, we are trying to protect the environment not just for ourselves; we are protecting it for humanity, for the rest of the world.”

Carling is a member of the Kankanaey people of Cordillera.

“Our land sits on a mineral belt, rich in gold, copper and manganese. It belongs to us, the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. Yet, our natural resources and way of life are threatened by mining companies and other so-called ‘developmental projects,’” she said.

‘Baseless’ terror tag

Last February, the Department of Justice asked a Manila court to declare Carling and around 600 others as terrorists.

Carling called the accusation “completely baseless.”

“When we defend, we take legitimate actions. Our leaders are getting arrested and some of our leaders are even killed,” she said. 

She added that she has not been home since he was placed on a list of alleged armed rebels.

“It has uprooted me: I fear for the safety of my family and friends. But I need to stay more motivated than ever. I cannot give up the fight for my people,” Carling said.

The terrorist petition has been criticized for endangering the lives of the individuals included on the list.

Last month, the Manila court declared the following as “non-parties” to the DOJ proscription petition:

  • United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
  • Former Rep. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna)
  • National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rafael Baylosis
  • Rights advocate Jose Melencio Molintas

JOAN CARLING UNITED NATIONS
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