Green group decries attacks on environmentalists
(Philstar.com) - September 21, 2016 - 3:19pm
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines -- Environmental group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) is alarmed over recent extrajudicial killings, illegal detention and other human rights violations allegedly carried out by military agents in North Luzon and Southern Mindanao.
 
"We have just received reports of the illegal detention of John Claudio Maniquez, a young environmental defender who is part of our local affiliates in Compostela Valley, by elements of the 46th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army while two of his companions have apparently been forcibly disappeared," Kalikasan PNE campaign coordinator Leon Dulce said.
 
Maniquez is a 21 year-old peasant youth with the local environment group Panalipdan Youth – Pantukan. He and his two companions -- identified in initial reports as 'Bla' and 'Iking' -- were putting up posters announcing a local peace forum on Sept. 19 when they were tailed by military soldiers and later on allegedly illegally arrested.
 
A certain Sgt. Domingo Ygat of the 46th IB reportedly filed a complaint against Maniquez for his alleged illegal possession of a revolver and being an alleged member of the New People's Army.
 
Dulce said "the ludicrous complaint that Maniquez was an armed NPA member has been a tried and tested technique of the police and military to harass activists and citizens." Kalikasan PNE believes Maniquez was detained for opposing a large-scale mining project in the area.
 
Dulce said three farmers opposing "environmentally-critical" projects were also killed in separate incidents in North Cotabato and Isabela.
 
"The military and private security of corporations seem to be sabotaging the ongoing peace efforts with this continuing militarization in areas where destructive projects are found, and environmental advocates are suffering for it," Dulce also said
 
According to Kalikasan PNE, 99 environmentalists have been killed since 2001, with five cases happening under the Duterte administration.
 
The environmentalist group has been coordinating with local affiliate organizations to work for the Maniquez's release and the confirmation of his companions' whereabouts.  
 
The group also called for the accountability and eventual dismantling of paramilitary groups, and the pullout of military and paramilitary forces from areas threatened by extractive projects like mining."

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