An anti-mining alliance in the Philippines called for justice for the killing of tribal leader Datu Victor Danyan, who was murdered five years ago this week in what was alleged by military officials to be a clash between government soldiers and communist rebels.
“We demand that government fulfill its obligation to stop violence against environmental human rights defenders and to serve justice for the attacks and killings of environmental activists, particularly of Datu Victor,” said Rene Pamplona, chairperson of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
Datu Victor Danyan is best remembered as a tribal chieftain who led the Indigenous People’s organisation TAMASCO, formed by the T’boli Manobo, to assert their rights as indigenous peoples in Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato provinces.
He fought and protested against the alleged land grabbing and encroachment of private corporations into ancestral lands.
TAMASCO, or the T’boli-Manobo S’daf Claimants Organization, commemorated the fifth death anniversary of Datu Victor, his two children, grandchildren and nephews and nieces. A tribal ritual was held at the burial site in Datal Bonlangon.
“We continue to seek justice. We also continue to provide protection to our ancestral lands and recover most of it for the future of our tribe,” said Datu Dande Dinya, chairman of TAMASCO.
Datu Victor was among those being honored by human rights and pro-environment groups as “Environmental Heroes and Martyrs” this year.
“We are paying tribute to the heroism of these fallen green warriors, so the younger generations will know them and the good fight they waged,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
“At this time when the administration and corporations are trying hard to either erase or tarnish the memory of these activists, it is important for us to honor and remember them and their sacrifices,” he said.
From November 30 until December 8, remembrance activities will be undertaken in different parts of the country to recognize the heroism and “martyrdom” of selected environmental defenders.