2 February 2011
Kalikasan PNE joins the family of Dr. Gerry Ortega, the bishops of Palawan and the thousands of Palawenos in mourning as he was laid to his final resting place.
A veterinarian, broadcaster, and an environmentalist, Dr. Ortega is respected and loved by the people of Palawan. He tirelessly worked with poor communities and indigenous peoples to protect the province from environmental destruction caused by large scale foreign mining operations. As a strong critique of mining projects, he advocated for mining moratorium in Palawan.
Sadly, Dr. Ortega is now among the dozens of environmentalists and hundreds of other leaders who were killed because of their advocacy against destructive government policies. Dr. Ortega is the first environmental advocate killed this year and 37th since 2001. Twenty eight (28) among the environmental advocates killed are anti-mining activists. Recently, top botanist and conservationist Leonard Co and two of his companions were killed by abusive government troops in Kananga, Leyte on November 15, 2010 while doing biodiversity conservation work. Until now, none of these cases have been solved and nobody has been punished as being responsible for the crimes.
Dr. Ortega is a serious loss to the environmental movement. His work on protecting Palawan against large scale foreign miners is an enormous task that needs to be continued even after his death. We urge the people of Palawan
and fellow environmentalists to continue Dr. Ortega’s advocacy against large scale foreign mining. In light of this, we also invite the rest of our countrymen to join the 10 million signature movement against large scale foreign mining not only in Palawan but in the whole country.
Today, as we light a thousand candles in his memory, let us remember what Dr. Ortega fought and died for. May these thousand lights today guide our advocacy work for the environment and for the people. Let us multiply these thousand lights to millions as we continue our search for justice for Dr. Ortega and for others who, like Dr. Ortega, were killed because of advocating against the destruction of our environment.
National Coordinator, Kalikasan PNE