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Filipino women being killed for 'defending land'

Rights groups say at least 153 activists have been killed since 2001

Mark Saludes, Manila

Mark Saludes, Manila

Published: March 08, 2016 08:55 AM GMT

Updated: March 08, 2016 08:56 AM GMT

Filipino women being killed for 'defending land'

Various groups call for the inclusion of Philippine tribal women on the agenda of political parties competing in upcoming national elections during a media briefing on Women's Day. (Photo by Robert Gines) 

A growing number of Filipino women, especially in rural areas, have become victims of human rights abuses for defending their land.

At least 153 women activists have been killed since 2001, according to the human rights group Karapatan.

One victim, Teresita Navacilla, was shot dead in January by suspected military personnel for openly opposing an open-pit mine in the southern Philippine province of Compostela Valley.

"The only parties to benefit from Navacilla's demise are the mining corporations," said Karapatan secretary-general Hanimay Suazo.

Sister Maria Fatima Somogod of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines said attacks on tribal communities in the region "are an attack on women fighting for their families and the environment."

"We cannot blame women if they are rebelling against an unjust system," said the nun.

"They are just taking care of their love ones and things that are important to them," she said.

"The murders of indigenous women leaders expose the kind of development that governments around the world are pursuing," said Judith Pamela Pasimio, spokeswoman of tribal women's rights group, Purple Action.

She said tribal women are fighting for the environment and "are giving their lives for this cause."

Pasimio cited the case of B'laan leader Juvy Capion, of Davao del Sur province, who was killed with her two children in 2012 for opposing a mining company operating on tribal ancestral land.

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At least 18 indigenous women activists, have been killed since President Benigno Aquino came to power in 2010, according to data gathered by Tanggol Bayi, an indigenous women’s rights group.

Karapatan noted that of the 78 political prisoners arrested since 2010, 35 were women. 


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