Asia Minute: Deaths of Environmental Activists Spike in Philippines

Feb 21, 2017

Leni Robredo meets with Rodrigo Duterte
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has now been in office for nearly 8 months. There’s been a lot of publicity about his administration’s war on drugs—and drug dealers. But this week there is a new focus on other killings: those of environmental activists. HPR’s Bill Dorman has details in today’s Asia Minute.


A human rights group says a dozen environmental advocates have been killed in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte took office at the end of June.

The latest incident came last week. Police say a lawyer was shot by four motorcycle gunmen while she was driving a van with her children and her nanny.

The vice president of the Philippines wants an investigation into all the deaths calling for authorities to “eliminate the culture of impunity in the country.”

Vice President Leni Robredo is herself a former human rights lawyer. She left an additional post in the Duterte cabinet late last year because of what she called “major differences in principles and values” with the president.

In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately and frequently come from different political parties.

A group called the “Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment” says most of those dozen deaths related to environmental activism are linked to opposition to mining operations.

The issue is not a new one for the country. Last year, a rights group called “Global Witness” ranked the Philippines as the second most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists - trailing only Brazil.

Tonight in Manila, environmental and human rights lawyers are holding a memorial mass and what they call an “indignation gathering.”