Struggling on Dangerous Ground [i]
By Val De Guzman [ii]
According to a recent report published by Global Witness, the Philippines is not only the second most dangerous place for journalists, it is also the second deadliest country for environmental activists. The report, released last June 20 and entitled On Dangerous Ground, said there had been 185 killings of environmental activists around the world in 2015, nearly 60 percent more than in 2014 and the highest since Global Witness began collecting data in 2002.
The recent killing of another environmental defender in Bataan, a province situated in the Central Luzon region of the Philippines, would attest to what the report claims.
On the evening of July 1, 2016, the life of Gloria Capitan, a staunch anti-coal advocate who had led her community in opposing a coal storage plant project near their neighborhood in Mariveles, Bataan, ended violently.
Ate Glo, to people close to her and to those who had the privilege of working with her, remember her friendliness and genuine smile that also met me many times whenever we had an activity or site visit at Lucanin, Mariveles, Bataan.
She was the president of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin (Association of the United People of Lucanin), a community-based organization that resisted the construction of a coal plant and open storage facility by Sea Front Shipyard Services Incorporated which is owned by Limay Bulk and Handling Terminal.
At 57, she was still very active in the fight against coal and even led her village last year in a series of mass actions and petitions calling for a permanent closure of the coal storage facility. For a living, she ran a small karaoke cantina—the very place where her life was cut short last July 1 when she was approached and shot at the neck by motorcycle riding gunmen, while her eight year-old grandson suffered a minor injury from a stray bullet in his arm.
If this is a message to silence other anti-coal activist like her, then they are mistaken.
On the ground where Ate Glo’s body fell, where the blood from her body flowed, more anti-coal activists will sprout. Instead of silencing us, it will only strengthen our conviction that the evil menace of coal must end. And we will persevere in this fight and see to it that our children and the children of our children will be free from it.
Justice for Gloria! Stop the killing of environmental defenders!
[ii] Val De Guzman is a campaigner for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, a national movement consisting of national networks/alliances and local organizations representing basic sectors, grassroots communities in the Philippines that aim to lead the joint struggles, campaigns and actions in putting forward the climate justice framework as a fundamental element of solving the climate crisis.
For further queries and details, please contact the Coal-Free Bataan Movement at [email protected] or [email protected] or mobile number +639478922831. The appeal for support for Gloria Capitan may be read at this link: http://focusweb.org/content/coal-free-bataan-movement-appeal-support-ate-gloria-capitan