MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo called for a prompt investigation into the killings of environmental defenders, following the death of a Bohol-based lawyer.
"It is alarming that in the first 7 months of this administration, there are already 12 environment advocates who have been killed. We urge authorities to fast track investigation, bring those responsible to justice, and eliminate the culture of impunity in the country," Robredo said in a statement on Monday, February 20.
She also expressed her condolences to the family of Mia Manuelita Mascariñas-Green, who was slain by 4 motorcycle gunmen on February 15.
"Our country lost a fierce environmental advocate and a dedicated alternative lawyer," said the Vice President, who was also a pro-bono lawyer prior to entering politics.
Green was known for investigating crimes affecting the environment. She was shot while driving a van in Bohol with her children and nanny. She died at the hospital, but her companions survived. The police has not yet linked the attack to her work as an environmental lawyer.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bohol president Ted Lagang said they are ensuring that an airtight case will be filed against the perpetrators, with 6 witnesses ready to testify.
The Philippines was ranked in 2015 as the world's 2nd most dangerous place for environmental campaigners, with more than 100 killed in the past 15 years.
In the 7 months since President Rodrigo Duterte sat in Malacañang, there have been 12 defenders slain, mostly activists against mining operations.
Here's a list of deaths recorded by monitoring group Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, as of February 20, 2017:
Environmental and human rights lawyers will hold a Mass and "indignation gathering" at the Manila Observatory on Tuesday, February 21, at 6 pm.
Green's family issued a statement on Monday, affirming their quest for justice, and thanking those who have condoled with them:
We, the family of Atty Mia, remain steadfast in our quest for justice, buoyed by our faith that the authorities are doing everything in their power to bring the perpetrators and their accomplices to justice.
We would like to thank the thousands of people from all walks of life – the fishers, farmers, tricycle drivers, community workers, public servants, civil society members, religious groups, the young and old, men and women – who shared their love, prayers, flowers, gifts and time during the wake for Atty Mia at the family home. We have received so many precious stories, gifts and kind words from them, as well as the whole Boholano, Philippine, and international community.
Though words don't adequately describe the person that Atty Mia was or the life that she lived, we put together the following four vignettes that we hope collectively capture her caring nature, generous heart, and beautiful spirit.
Please join us as we continue to honor and celebrate her life and legacy.