A pro-environment group has called for an independent investigation over the alleged state-sponsored bombing of rural communities where environmentally destructive projects are situated.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said, “indiscriminate bombing and shelling do not only kill, maim, destroy property, and disrupt the lives of communities — these also cause widespread ecological destruction, green groups point out.
The group reported cases of “aerial strafing and bombing of 14 communities” that led to the displacement of tens of thousands of families.
“On April 15, 2022, soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 29th Infantry Battalion shelled the mountainous Sitio Palo 12, Barangay Poblacion 12, Santiago, Agusan del Norte six times, forcing the residents of surrounding sitios to abandon their small-scale mining activities there,” Kalikasan PNE said in a statement issued on December 12.
Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said military operations and arbitrary bombings are “part of the modus operandi used by the state to ‘clear out’ areas for extractive industries.”
He said other communities that were bombed and strafed were also “similarly found in places where resistance to destructive projects was strong or growing, or where rich pools of natural resources were found and are being eyed by big business interests.”
Bonifacio also said that there are at least 10 land and environmental activists who were killed this year.
“While this presents a welcome drop in the number of killings, this is on top of hundreds of other human rights violations against Indigenous peoples, small farmers, fisherfolk, and other environmental stewards,” he said.
The group also renewed its call for the passage of laws aimed to safeguard the rights of environmental and human rights defenders.