Filipino Indigenous Rights Activist Rene Pamplona is the recipient of the 2018 Alexander Soros Foundation Award for Environmental and Human Rights Activism.
(December 2018) Filipino Indigenous Rights Activist Rene Pamplona is the recipient of the 2018 Alexander Soros Foundation Award for Environmental and Human Rights Activism. He has bravely documented violations and sought justice for the indigenous Blaan people affected by the Tampakan mine.
The Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for human rights defenders; 41 land and environmental activists were murdered in 2017. The complete absence of both political will and the lack of institutional structures necessary to protect activists are apparent. In February 2018 the Philippines Ministry of Justice included the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz – a Filipina – on a list of communist terrorists, generating international condemnation.
Against this backdrop, Filipino activist Rene Pamplona has worked tirelessly to support indigenous communities whose rights and environment are affected by the imposition of large-scale development projects. The local indigenous communities were not properly consulted regarding the mine and weren’t able to give their free prior and informed consent. Their land has been grabbed and their relocation has been fraught with abuses – perpetrated by the involvement of corrupt government officials, rich businessmen, international companies, police, military, and paramilitary groups. Historically, since the 1970s in the time of logging concessions, there was and continues to be widespread fear and mistrust of the military from Indigenous Peoples.
Rene’s work aims to strengthen environmental protection in the area to support long-term healthy mountains, rivers and water rights, food rights, indigenous rights, and protecting the health of Lake Buluwan which is sacred to indigenous community and Muslims in the area.
The Alexander Soros Award will shine a light on the most dangerous places in Asia to be a land and environmental defender. As the mouthpiece for indigenous activists, Rene Pamplona is on the frontline. Awarding the prize to Rene and telling his story is a beacon of hope not only for him but for all those standing up for the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.