DAVAO CITY — The French national who along with his wife and son’s bodies were found dead in Narra, Palawan was a known environmental advocate doing voluntary work in the island.

And if Jean Marc Messina was killed in the line of duty, the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said he would be the fifth environmentalist killed in Palawan since 2005.
“The death of Jean Marc, and the continuing pattern of killings before it, validates the 2014 study by international NGO Global Witness, noting the Philippines as the second most dangerous place in the world for environmental advocates,” Clemente Bautista, a member of Kalikasan PNE.

On Tuesday, January 26, authorities found the bodies of Messina, his wife Jewelyn Venturillo, and their four year-old son Guiliano Steffal Venturillo dead with gunshot wounds inside an abandoned pickup in Narra, Palawan.

The other victims of extrajudicial killings in the island were indigenous people’s leader Abelino Sungit (February 2005), anti-mining activists Rev. Raul Domingo (August 2005) and Rabenio Sungit (September 2011), and broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega (January 2011).

Messina was the third foreign environmental advocate living in the Philippines killed under the Aquino administration. Before him was Italian priest Fr. Faustino ‘Pops’ Tenorio (October 2011) and Dutch lay-worker Willem Geerthman (July 2012).

According to Bautista, people and organizations opposing ecologically destructive projects such as large-scale mining, palm-oil plantations, coal power plants, illegal logging, and other forms of ‘development aggression’ in Palawan are being harassed and threatened with harm.

Kalikasan’s data showed that there are now 94 environmental advocates killed since 2001, including Jean Marc and his family.

Bautista said aside from one case with a watered-down decision, all of these killings have not been resolved by the Aquino government.

With most of the identified suspects and perpetrators of these killings remain scot-free, Bautista reiterated the observation of many local and international human rights group in the country that justice is elusive in the Philippines.

“We hope the case of Jean Marc and his family will be the long sought-after break from the harrowing trend. We demand police authorities to step up efforts in identifying, and immediately arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators,” said Bautista. (davaotoday.com)

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