Ranked as a country most vulnerable to the impact of climate change, The Philippines is also the most dangerous place in the world to defend land rights and the environment. President Duterte’s government has enabled seizures of Indigenous lands by an environmentally damaging gold and copper mining project. When communities stand up to defend their land, they face threats, intimidation, criminalisation and even murder.
Four of these defenders are Alicia Tindasan, Jhona Rose Madrid, Rolan Segovia, and Estanislao Talledo. They are members of the Compostela Farmer’s Association (CFA), a grassroots organisation in Mindanao of Indigenous Peoples and farmers who have come together in a struggle to protect their land, livelihoods and the environment. For two years these four farmers, together with their motor-taxi driver, have been in prison on false charges and still awaiting trial.
Last year, CFA Secretary General, Jimmy Saypan was murdered by two gunmen on a motorcycle. He had survived two previous assassination attempts that year. Nobody has been prosecuted for his murder. Not only this, but Secretary of Justice Atty Guevarra, appointed by Duterte himself, has taken little action on protecting the defenders.
This is a clear tactic used by the Government to intimidate and silence the CFA and its resistance to the environmentally destructive mining exploration by AgPet – connected to the powerful San Miguel Corporation, headed by a major donor of President Duterte.
ACT NOW and demand that President Duterte and Secretary of Justice Atty Guevarra release and drop all charges against the “Compostela 5”, protect Indigenous territories and land rights defenders, stop seizures of land, and bring to justice those responsible for the threatening, intimidation and murder of those defending their lands.
The full story of the “Compostela 5”
Four farmers, Alicia Tindasan, Jhona Rose Madrid, Rolan Segovia, and Estanislao Talledo, were heading to visit a friend when their motor-taxi was pulled over at an army checkpoint. Together with their taxi driver, they were held in a cell for two days before falsely being accused of carrying an explosive device. They have been awaiting trial for two years.
Their crime? They oppose gold and copper mining projects on their land. They are members of the Compostela Farmer’s Association (CFA), a grassroots organisation in Mindanao, made up of Indigenous Peoples and farmers who have come together in a struggle to protect their land, livelihoods and the environment.
The double threat
The land where the farmers live and grow their food has belonged to their communities’ for generations. Even though it has already been ravaged by super-typhoons and deadly landslides, they take care of it. Now the threat does not only come from climate change, but from the AgPet extractive gold and copper mining projects operating on their land. This company is connected to the San Miguel Corporation – which has close links to President Duterte.
With no trial date announced, the five face perpetual imprisonment.They know lengthy pre-trial detention is just one of many tactics used to silence CFA members and stop them from defending their land against destructive mining projects.
“When the charges were read, we were just silent… When asked if we could counter them, all we could say is that the things written there were not true.” Alicia Tindasan
The dangerous battle
In 2018 the Philippines saw more land and environmental defenders murdered than anywhere else on Earth. Last year, CFA Secretary General, Jimmy Saypan was murdered by two gunmen on a motorcycle. He had survived two previous assassination attempts that year. Jimmy Saypan led protests against the mining projects and environmental impacts associated with the Agpet mine. Like many other CFA members, he was threatened and criminalised before he was killed. Nobody has been prosecuted for Jimmy’s murder.
“The conditions in prison are not good… it’s like hell. But we’ve got used to it….we prefer it to being killed.”
Call for the release of the Compostela 5! #landrightsnow