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Palace: Gov’t acting on killings of Lumads

By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

Malacañang said yesterday that the Duterte administration does not tolerate any killings related to the environment and environmental defenders and indigenous peoples, after Global Witness, a London-based non-government organization, in a report, tagged the Philippines as among the deadliest countries in the world for environmental defenders for four consecutive years.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, citing the report, said mining-related killings accounted for the plurarity of these cases, with indigenous Lumad people as among the hardest hit.

“We do not condone such violence and intimidation,” Abella said.

According to Abella, the government has established the Indigenous Peoples Inter-Agency Task Force to address reports on killings, violence, and intimidation.

The task force is composed of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, its corporate arm, the Natural Resources Development Corp., and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

“Government has thus established the Indigenous Peoples Inter-Agency Task Force to ensure that indigenous peoples are not subjected to undue pressure and influence from unscrupulous businessmen intending to extract natural resources from their ancestral lands,” Abella said.

In its report titled “Defenders of the Earth,” Global Witness reported that at least 28 land and environmental defenders were killed in the Philippines in 2016.

The report also declared 2016 as the deadliest year for the environment and land defenders with at least 200 people killed across the globe, more than twice the number of journalists which was at 79.

Global Witness also declared mining as the “bloodiest trade” with at least 33 murders linked to the sectors.

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