During the first 13 months of President Duterte’s government, 58 out of the 98 victims of extrajudicial killings were human rights defenders. Most at risk are peasant leaders, indigenous peoples and environmental activists. Of the 98 victims of extrajudicial killings, 91 were leaders and members of peasant organizations who were fighting for their land and environmental rights.
In 2017, on the 3rd of June in Calagatan town, Batangas, Lito Casalla a member of Samahan ng Magbubukid sa Batangas was gunned down by unknown assailants. According to the group’s leaders this was because of his active role against the land grabbing activity of San Miguel Corp.
Asturias Chemical Industries has a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau which gave the company license to exploit over 808 hectares of the land for its limestone. The groups said the MPSA was issued covering the disputed area despite the peasants already having an “Emancipation Patent” over these lands.
This is a part of a wider conflict as described by environmental activists from the kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment who in October 2017 joined over a hundred farmers and fisherfolk from the town of Calatagan in picketing the central offices of the Asturias Chemical Industries and the Department of Justice.The groups protested the recent spate of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, and harassment cases against their ranks opposing the company’s limestone mining project.
‘The 730th combat group of the Philippine Air Force and the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army have intensified the militarization of anti-mining communities in Calatagan. These mercenary troops are attempting to hasten the full displacement of farmers and fisherfolks from resource-rich lands,’ said Agaton Bautista, secretary general of SAMBAT, who led the protest caravan from the mining-besieged province.