End Corporate Greed, Stop Harassing Environmental Defenders
The Hinatuan Mining Company (HMC) earlier filed charges against Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) for issuing a press release about the mining operations in Guiuan town of Manicani Island in the Province of Eastern Samar.
The resolution submitted by Deputy City Prosecutor Patrick Noel De Dios which was approved by City Chief Prosecutor Archimedes Manabat recommends that PMPI National Coordinator Yoly Esguerra and three other staff be held responsible.
PMPI maintains that the complaint of the HMC is a form of strategic legal action against public participation and plain harassment for our organization and human rights defenders that have been helping the resistance of the community who are instrumental for the suspension of mining operations in Manicani Island.
Aside from Article 3, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution, the right to freedom of expression is protected under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Philippines is a state party. The Philippines also joined 126 other states at the UN General Assembly in adopting General Assembly Resolution 70/161, which recognizes states’ responsibility to protect human rights defenders. The UN Human Rights Council’s 21 March 2016 resolution on human rights defenders similarly recognizes the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders to express their views, concerns, criticisms and dissent regarding government policy or business activities and underlines the need for governments to take necessary measures to safeguard such dialogue.
We now insist that the Philippine government must fulfill its obligations under international law to ensure human rights defenders are protected, not punished. Our country must decriminalize libel or e-libel, which international law considers a disproportionate form of punishment for defamation-related charges. The Philippine Human Rights community is also urging HMC including concerned legal institutions to drop all unwarranted charges brought against human rights defenders.
Apart from these, the government should also effectively investigate numerous cases of violence committed against human rights defenders and hold perpetrators to account.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights provide that businesses have a responsibility to respect human rights wherever they operate. In line with this, businesses in Philippines must respect the rights of human rights defenders who exercise their fundamental rights, including the right to freedom of expression. Businesses should further engage in meaningful consultation and dialogue with relevant communities and stakeholders in order to identify, prevent, and address any potential adverse human rights and environmental impacts related to their activities.
In support to PMPI 4 (co-HR Defenders) against the Internet-Libel case filed against them by the mining company, we urge everyone to change and use the attached profile picture today. Please help spread. Thank you.