09/16/2021, 15.43
PHILIPPINES
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Mindanao tribal rights defender becomes 58th lawyer murdered during the Duterte era

Juan Macababbad, vice president of the Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao, defended the victims of the 2018 Lake Sebu massacre. According to Global Witness, the Philippines ranked third in the world in 2020 for this type of murder with 29 activists killed defending their land.

Davao (AsiaNews) – Another lawyer who defended rights of tribal peoples was killed in Mindanao.

Juan Macababbad, the vice-president of the Union of Peoples' Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), was fatally shot in front of his home in Surallah, South Cotabato district.

He becomes the 58th lawyer to be killed since Rodrigo Duterte became President of the Philippines in 2016.

UPLM blamed what it called "the pervading culture of impunity, lack of serious probe and prosecution" of thousands of extrajudicial killings in the country for the murders of these lawyers. 

“Our colleagues have become main targets, especially those who resist tyranny and defend human rights,” said UPLM chairman Antonio Azarcon.  

The lawyer murdered yesterday represented the victims of the December 2018 Lake Sebu massacre, in the same district in South Cotabato.

Eight ethnic T'boli and Manobo were killed in an "anti-terrorism" operation in an area where local tribes have been fighting for decades to defend their ancestral lands threatened by the expansion of coffee plantations and mining.

In its latest report on environmentalists killed in the world, Global Witness, an international NGO, raised the alarm on the situation in the Philippines.

With as many as 29 people killed for defending in various ways the rights of local communities over their lands, the Philippines ranked third in the world in 2020 for this type of murder, first in Asia.

A few months ago, the Duterte administration lifted the moratorium on opening new mines in the Philippines.

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