Unsung heroes recognized on Fourth Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (GBK)

Dec. 02, 2015

DAVAO CITY – Anti-mining defenders, environmental scientists, land protectors, farmers and other stewards of environment were recognized today at the Fourth Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (GBK).

Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan (GBK) is a periodic awards event and lecture series honoring Filipino heroes and heroines who have defended the environment and people’s rights.

Frances Quimpo, Executive director of the Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines (CEC-Phils) and the lead organizer of the GBK said that in-line with the commemoration of 2015 as the International Year of Soils, the 4th GBK highlighted the people’s struggles on defending their rights as land owners and the efforts made for saving the soul of terrestrial ecosystems.

“This year’s crop of Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan heroes was acclaimed for bringing in their knowledge, capacities, and committed principles into the people’s responses to the worsening land, environment and climate crises we face. World leaders in the on-going COP 21 climate talks should be grounded in the tireless and selfless deeds of Filipino environmental heroes who stand for land, life, and the environment,” said Quimpo.

After a meticulous nationwide process of nomination and selection, the GBK honored three individuals, two organizations and the most exemplary organization.

The receiver of the Most Distinguished Award was the Talibon-Trinidad Integrated Farmers Association (TTIFA), a farmer’s organization in Bohol province whose members have occupied land areas in the cattle ranches and transformed them into a productive, sustainable and communal agricultural hub. They have done this done despite of the continuing harassments to them by private security and paramilitary forces.

“The people’s ownership of land and their collective practice of ecological agriculture have helped improve agricultural productivity across more than 30 villages in their locality,” said Quimpo.

The GBK individual awardees were Marieta Corpuz – an Aeta mother and leader of the Samahan ng mga Katutubo ng Sierra Madre, Most Rev. Jose Manguiran, Bishop Emiritus of Dipolog City who is known for opposing large scale mining projects and the late Fidela ‘Delle’ Salvador who helped in building rehabilitation for Super Typhoon victims Ondoy and Pepeng and other disasters in Cordillera region.

The other GBK organization awardees were; Bukluran para sa Inang Kalikasan-Batangas (BUKAL) and Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR).

Quimpo said that the same with these people, the commitment to act in reducing the hazards of climate change is still in need.

“World leaders should take a leaf out of the GBK heroes’ books and assert for a new climate agreement that ensures social justice, environmental protection, and the accountability of polluter countries and companies,” said Quimpo.

The 4th GBK, was held at the UP NISMED Auditorium in the University of the Philippines – Diliman. (davaotoday.com)

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