Church exec fears over safety of priest, IP leaders (6 November 2012)
Members of anti-oil palm plantation community and support group under surveillance (30 October 2012)
Hon. Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President, Republic of the Philippines
Hon. Leila M. De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice (DOJ)
Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje, CESO I
Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Hon. Zenaida Brigida H. Pawid
Chairperson, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)
Hon. Dexter B. Yasay
Municipal Mayor, Municipality of Opol
I am writing to express my utmost concern and request your immediate intervention on the killing of Mr. Gilbert Paborada, 47, a human rights defender belonging to the indigenous Higaonon peoples. He was the chairperson of the community-based indigenous organisation, Pangalasag (literally means "indigenous shield"), who has been collectively resisting the expansion of a palm oil plantation in Opol, Misamis Oriental province.
On 3 October 2012, Mr Paborada was killed by two unidentified gunmen in Cagayan de Oro.
Around 3pm on that fateful day, Mr. Paborada had just returned from his native village Bagocboc to his place in San Nicolas, Puntod in Cagayan de Oro City. After alighting a public tricycle near his house, two heavy-built men on a white motorcycle approached him and fired several shots at him. Witnesses report that one of the men subsequently approached the victim and shot him again, this time on the head. From the five bullet wounds he sustained, it has been concluded the shots were fired from a .45 calibre pistol. The human rights defender died instantly.
I condemn the killing in the highest possible term and believe Mr. Paborada's killing is solely motivated by his legitimate and peaceful activities defending human rights in Misamis Oriental province, specifically the land rights of indigenous peoples in Opol. In addition to this, the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, of which Pangalasag is a member affiliated, reports that Mr. Paborada is the second indigenous land rights defender in North Mindanao to be killed since June 2011. In the light of this fact, as well as the threats previously directed at Mr. Paborada, I am concerned about the growing climate of insecurity facing peaceful human rights defenders.
In order to uphold the rights of human rights defenders as well as the indigenous peoples, I would like to request you to immediately undertake the following measures:
- Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of human rights defender Gilbert Paborada, with a view of making public the results and bringing those responsible to justice.
- Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of human rights defenders working in the defence of land rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and their families in Misamis Oriental.
- Order the government agencies concerned, i.e., Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to investigate on the land grabbing of ancestral lands by A Brown Company in the villages of Bagocboc and Tingalan in Opol, Misamis Oriental.
- A Brown Company, Inc. must pull out its palm oil plantation in the villages of Bagocboc and Tingalan in Opol.
- The Local Government Units of Opol and Misamis Oriental must withdraw their support to A Brown's entry in Opol, and provide redress and immediate support to the families displaced by the palm oil plantation.
I also call on the Philippine government to:
- Uphold people's food sovereignty and stop land use conversion especially the conversion of forests and agricultural lands to palm oil plantations, which have been proven to have adverse environmental, health and social effects.
- End all forms of land grabbing in the country.
I would very much appreciate it if you can keep me informed about the future development of this case.
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