PH deadliest nation in Asia for environmental defenders for a decade – study

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 13) — For a decade, the Philippines has remained the most dangerous country for environmental defenders in Asia after 11 were killed in the country last year, rights watchdog Global Witness reported.

In a statement published Wednesday, the group said at least 177 defenders were killed around the world last year, or about one death every other day. The number of casualties between 2012 and 2022 was logged at 1,910.

The worst country for land defenders in 2022 was Colombia where 60 defenders, over a third of the global tally, were killed. Right behind were Brazil at 34, Mexico at 31, Honduras at 14, and the Philippines as the fifth most dangerous worldwide at 11.

While last year's tally was a decrease compared to the 19 defenders slain in the Philippines in 2021, the country has continued to be the worst place in Asia for land activists since 2012 – the year Global Witness began its annual monitoring on environmental killings.

At least 281 land defenders have been killed in the Philippines in the past decade.

In 2018, the Philippines was even branded the world's deadliest country for environmental defenders when the London-based watchdog monitored 34 deaths.

READ: The Philippines is the world's most deadly place to defend the environment

However, Global Witness reckoned that the true scale of the problem could not be fully captured due to the restrictions on free press and a lack of monitoring in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

In its 2021 report, the group noted that 80% of the killings in the Philippines were connected to defenders protesting company operations. A third of the deaths were linked to the mining industry, followed by the agribusiness sector.

"As well as lethal attacks, defenders are also being increasingly subject to criminalisation as a strategy for silencing those who speak out, with laws being weaponised against them," the watchdog noted.

Just this month, progressive groups alleged that state forces were responsible for the abduction of two women environmental activists, though the police and military have denied involvement.

READ: Groups claim state forces behind abduction of 2 women activists; PNP, AFP belie claim