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Anti-mining activist fears for her life

Says police have branded her a communist rebel for her advocacy efforts

Donna Rabang Peta speaks during a press briefing in Laoag City on Wednesday (Photo by Leilanie Adriano) Donna Rabang Peta speaks during a press briefing in Laoag City on Wednesday (Photo by Leilanie Adriano)
  • Leilani Adriano, Laoag City
  • Philippines
  • July 12, 2012
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An anti-mining activist in the Ilocos region has filed a complaint before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after police and local officials accused her of being a communist rebel.

“I don’t feel safe anymore,” Donna Rabang Peta, a 39-year-old environmental advocate, told ucanews.com yesterday.

She said police served her a summons last month to answer reports that linked her to the rebel group New People’s Army (NPA). Peta said men in uniform have since been conducting surveillance on her.

In her complaint, Peta accused the town mayor of Dumalneg, Francis Espiritu, of questioning her association with an anti-mining activist group.

"We don’t deserve being harassed or being monitored by the [police],” Peta said. "This is not the first time I was included in a report because of my advocacy against large-scale and destructive mining,” she said.

The Defend Ilocos Against Mining Plunder, a network of environmental activists, issued a statement this week denouncing the "harassment, intimidation and vilification" of Peta.

“This is a cowardly act instituted by the state against the very people that it has sworn to serve and protect, and against activists who are advocating for social change and a healthy environment,” the group said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The CHR has promised to investigate Peta’s complaint.

The group Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment has recorded a total of 17 environmental activists killed in the past two years.

The group’s leaders have blamed the killings on the revitalization of the mining industry in the country and President Benigno Aquino’s alleged lack of interest to bring to justice the perpetrators of the crimes.

Since 2001, the group has recorded a total of 58 cases of killings of environmental activists, but police have failed in each instance to prosecute a suspect.

In a report titled “2012 Human Rights Situation for Environmental Advocates in the Philippines,” the group said environmentalists are becoming an “endangered species” in the Philippines because of the rampant killing involving environmental activists.

The report listed Willem Geertman, a Dutch missionary, as the latest victim of extrajudicial killings involving environmentalists.

Geertman was shot and killed in front of his office in the city of San Fernando on July 3.

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