Environmental group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) held a mural painting event in Quezon City on Saturday, September 17, to “celebrate the spirit” of Filipino environmental defenders who have fought to protect the Philippine environment since the declaration of Martial Law by the dictator Marcos Sr. 50 years ago.
People from various walks of life helped paint a mural on the gate of Kalikasan PNE’s office, as a way to pay tribute to hundreds of Filipino ‘tanggol kalikasan’ — men and women who have offered their lives to protect the country’s environment and people.At the event, dubbed ‘Agimat’, documentaries on the environmental were also screened, along with an inspiring video message from Daisy Macapanpan, the 69-year-old grandmom-environmental activist who was red-tagged and arrested this June for actively campaigning against the Ahunan Pumped-Storage Hydropower Project in Pakil, Laguna.
“Today we honor the countless Filipino environmental defenders, from those who struggled against ‘development aggression’ during Martial Law, among them Kalinga’s Macli-ing Dulag, to those like Lola Daisy who struggle today also against ‘development aggression,” said Mark Fernando, Kalikasan PNE’s Environmental Defenders Campaign Lead.
“These people have held — and continue to hold — the line against ‘development aggression,’ protecting our commons, our environment and resources, for future generations.”Many mining, logging, power and agribusiness operations and infrastructure projects in the country are seen as ‘development’ that will lift local communities out of poverty.
But the activists assert that these only lead to ‘development aggression’, which violates the rights of local communities. Often, these projects end up devastating the environment.
“Our ‘tanggol kalikasan’ are now an ‘endangered species’ that need our solidarity,” Fernando noted. “At the same time, these people inspire us. As we continue our work, may they serve as our ‘agimat’ — our talisman and reminder that when we are motivated by love for the planet and people, we are invincible.”
‘Agimat’ is part of an ongoing series of activities launched by progressive people’s groups nationwide to mark 50 years since the declaration of Martial Law under the dictator Marcos Sr.