“We jail people for killing one or two persons. How about institutions or people that ravage the environment and cause the death of hundreds or thousands? The floods of Palawan are absolutely due to mining – due to the denudation of forests.” Doc Gerry Ortega
One year ago on January 24, a gunman shot dead Palawan environmentalist and broadcast journalist Doc Gerry Ortega along Puerto Princesa’s busy highway. Ortega was one of Palawan’s most popular radio commentators, anchoring the radio program “Ramatak” on DWAR Radio Mindanao Network.
Despite the trail of evidence and testimonies, the case against the alleged masterminds has barely moved foward.
Justice remains elusive
In a separate statement, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) called on the Aquino administration to “exert an effort equal to their prosecution of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona in bringing to justice the perpetrators of killings and other human rights violations on environmental advocates such as Dr. Gerry Ortega.”
Corona, allied with former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was impeached by the House of Representatives in December. The trial is ongoing at the Philippine Senate.
“It is the height of hypocrisy when President Aquino is pushing for the conviction of Corona when Aquino’s court, particularly the DOJ, has presently failed to stop the spate of killings of environmentalists under his term. Not one among the perpetrators of these killings has been put to justice,” Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said.
According to the group, ten environmental advocates have been killed under the new administration.
Meanwhile, Leon Dulce, spokesman of Kalikasan partylist said, “Injustices against the people and environment continue to occur on a daily basis because of environmentally-destructive, anti-people laws.”
“Pres. Aquino continues to promote mining liberalization and other anti-environment industries by defending it with state-sponsored militarization. How many more Gerry Ortegas do we need before the systematic human rights violations stop?” Dulce said.
Doc Jerry had a dream
Doc Gerry Ortega had a dream. That dream was to have a Palawan unspoiled by the devastation wrought by mining. It was his dream to put a stop to the destruction of forests, mangroves, and coral reefs. It was his dream for native Palaweños and for all Filipinos to take part in preserving the natural beauty that is Palawan. It was his dream for the preservation of Palawan to become our legacy to the next generation.
Now we could sit still and do nothing. Or we could take the time to understand and consider where we stand on the issue of mining in Palawan.