Water Security, Development Aggression, Environmental Degradation and Mass Atrocities in the Philippines

Image from Kodao Productions

When? 8am CEST Thursday 28 June 2022

Where? Link for Registration to follow

This panel forms part of the School for Water Defenders

To ensure water supply for urban areas, the Philippine government is pushing for the construction of mega-dams across the country. These structures threaten to displace indigenous peoples, disrupt rivers and disturb ecosystems, and cause deforestation.

From 2000 to 2012, mining operations in the Philippines generated 30 million metric tons of waste and 150 million mt of mine tailings, contaminating rivers and destroying the environment. Last year, the government lifted a state-imposed moratorium on mining activities and more than a hundred projects are already awaiting approval, promising the resumption and expansion of destructive mining operations.

In 2021, the Philippines became the first country to approve the commercial propagation of genetically-modified Golden Rice, which is used in tandem with Glyphosate. GMOs, herbicides, and pesticides are endorsed by the government despite the potential harm to the soil and water sources.

People’s organizations, activists, and civil society actors strongly oppose these programs that primarily benefit private enterprises and multinational companies. As a result, many from their ranks – including farmers, human rights workers, and environmental defenders – have been targeted and persecuted by the government, leading to widespread rights violations such as extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, threats, and malicious prosecution.

In December 2020, nine (9) members of the Indigenous Tumandok community in Panay Island were massacred and 16 others arrested by state forces. The Tumandok were vocal opponents of the Korean Eximbank-funded Jalaur River mega-dam being built on their ancestral land. That year, the Philippines was the most dangerous country in Asia for environmental advocacy.

The speakers will discuss state policies detrimental to the environment and the rights and welfare of affected communities, the obligations under domestic and international law being violated by the Philippine government, and the atrocities perpetrated against civilians in the name of “development” and profits.


1. John Ian Alenciaga
Human rights activist; Coordinator, Jalaur River for the People Movement
Topic: The Tumandok, the Jalaur River mega-dam project and its adverse impact, and experiences in the struggle against development aggression in the domestic and international arena
2. Angelo Karlo Guillen
Human rights lawyer; Secretary-General, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers – Panay Chapter
Topic: State obligations and human rights violations linked to development projects, environmental protection, and the rights of peasants and indigenous peoples under international law
3. Karen Faith Villaprudente
Environmental defender, Defend Panay Network
Topic: The Tumandok massacre, the ongoing struggle for the Jalaur River, and current challenges confronting peasants, indigenous peoples, and water security

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