Groups slam rights abuses, environmental rape in Quezon

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA  –  UP Los Baños faculty members, students  and local artists vowed to stop human rights abuses and imminent large-scale mineral exploration in South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula.

The group together with the Save Bondoc Peninsula Movement (SBPM), said  they will “take necessary actions to bring to justice human rights violators and oppose, through collective action, the impending environmental destruction that will be caused by the entry of mining and other extractive industries” in the said areas.

The group also said it will “continue to conduct educational activities and mass actions against government policies that further rights abuses, such as the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, and environmental destruction, such as the Mining Act of 1995 and the recently issued Executive Order 79.”

According to the SBPM, an unprecedented eight battalions of military, police and paramilitary elements are currently deployed in the Southern part of Quezon province under the government’s counterinsurgency program, coinciding with reports from residents of human right abuses.

Karapatan Southern Tagalog, an independent rights group, has documented at least 128 cases of human rights violations, including harassment, torture, divestment of property and enforced disappearance, allegedly committed by government security forces since 2011.
“Military and paramilitary troops are deployed in mineral-rich areas to serve as Investment Defence Forces designed to quell people’s resistance and to create an atmosphere conducive to mineral exploration by foreign and local mining corporations,” Liberty Notarte, UPLB faculty coordinator for the SBPM, said.

She added that since 2000, approximately 245,000 ha in Quezon are under mining application, representing about 21 percent of the total land area of the province.

“We are inspired by the apparent success of the No to Mining in Palawan Movement, and hope that through the growing support of individual and groups, we will be able to do the same in the case of South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula,” she said.

The SBPM has already conducted a mercy mission in San Andres and Lopez in Quezon last June 25 to July 2 and a candle lighting and ecumenical activity in UPLB last July 27. It has also launched during the benefit gig its one million paper cranes for peace drive, which will run until the celebration of the International Human Rights Day on December 8, 2012

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