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Philippines branded deadliest country in Asia for environment defenders in 2020

By Jose Oscar Magpusao

Photo Credits: Global Witness

Global Witness recorded a total of 29 killings of land and environmental defenders (LEDs) in the Philippines in their 2020 report.


According to their report, the 29 killings averaged at more than four deaths per week, marking the country as the third deadliest country in the world for LEDs - Colombia placed first at 65 killings and Mexico placed second with 30 killings. This also indicated that the Philippines ranked as the deadliest for LEDs in the entire continent of Asia.


“2020 also saw a growing range of threats against LEDs, including arrests, smear campaigns and non-lethal attacks, as states used the pandemic to restrict civic space,” the report stated.


Data on the report recorded five out of seven massacres in the world targeted indigenous peoples, with notable occurrences in the Philippines being the massacre of nine Tumandok indigenous people and the arrest of 17 others in the island of Panay during raids by the military and police on December 30, 2020.


The report placed emphasis on the impact of the Duterte administration on LEDs, as the number of LEDs killed under his administration totalled 166 - 65 of them being linked to agribusinesses and 48 linked to the mining sector. 30% of the total deaths also belonged to indegenous communities in the country.


The majority of the killings under the Duterte administration were in Mindanao, with 73 victims recorded by the report, followed by Negros with 40 victims and Luzon with 24.


The report also shared a list of lands under the protection of LEDs, which included: Palawan; Tanon Strait; Verde Island Passage; Masungi Georeserve; Pantaron Range; and Kaliwa River.


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