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Aquino government has 'no right' to mark Earth Day

Manila activists cite easing of mining restrictions and culture of impunity

Aquino government has 'no right' to mark Earth Day
Activists march in protest in Manila reporter, Manila

April 22, 2013

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Environmental activists today marked International Earth Day with protest actions around the country to expose "ecological destructions," including those allegedly caused by US military activities in the region. 

"It is not coincidental that these environmental disasters have become more frequent ever since the US military intensified its activities in the Asia-Pacific," said youth activist Terry Ridon.

He said US military activities have "directly caused several major faux pas" including the toxic waste dumping of a US ship in Subic Bay and the grounding of a US military warship in the protected Tubbataha Reef National Park.

"These transgressions against our sovereignty and our environment should not be interpreted as isolated cases," Ridon said.

"[The Aquino administration] allowed foreign vessels to destroy significant areas of coral reefs in Tubbataha, not once but twice, and seems bent on letting the culprits off the hook," said Clemente Bautista Jr, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

A Chinese fishing vessel also ran aground on Tubbatha two weeks ago, causing huge damage to marine life at the world heritage site.

Hundreds of environmental activists marched in Metro Manila today and denounced the government's attempt to join the international commemoration of Earth Day.

"Hypocritical," said Redemptorist priest Oliver Castor, advocacy officer of the Philippine Misereor Partnership, a partnership between NGOs, people’s organizations and church groups in the Philippines, and Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany. 

Castor said the recent lifting of the moratorium on new mining applications further discredited the government.

"The government is hell bent on allowing the wholesale extraction of our minerals even if it will compromise our natural resources and the lives of our fellow Filipinos,” he said.

Leon Dulce of the group Task Force Justice for Environmental Defenders said the government has also failed to curb "state-sponsored impunity towards environmental activists."

Not a single case from the at least 66 recorded killings of environmental advocates has been resolved. A total of 26 killings of environmental activists were registered since Aquino came to power in 2010.

Prominent environmental activists killed in the past three years include broadcaster Gerry Ortega, botanist Leonard Co, and Italian missionary priest Pops Tentorio.


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