Environment groups call for a halt to the military's destruction of forests

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The Environmental Defenders Congress is reiterating its call for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop bombing and airstrikes on protected forests on June 22, World Rainforest Day.

Philippine forests are under threat due to the AFP’s military aggression in its counterinsurgency operations, the group said. “These tropical rainforests are not just landscapes; they are sanctuaries housing almost 100 endemic species,” Jonila Castro, Kalikasan People’s Network for Environment advocacy officer, said. Kalikasan recorded 17 cases of bombing that severely threatened 11 sensitive areas, including eight key biodiversity areas (KBA).

Among the KBAs bombed by the military are the Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park in Kalinga; areas near the Northeastern Cagayan Protected Landscape and Seascape in Cagayan; Dinadiawan River Protected Landscape in Aurora; mountains of Iglit-Baco National Park and the Mindoro Biodiversity Corridor on the island of Mindoro; Mobo-Uson candidate Key Biodiversity Area in Masbate; Ilog-Hilabangan Watershed Forest Reserve in Negros Occidental; Ban-Ban Forest Key Biodiversity Area in Negros Oriental; Iloilo Strait marine KBA; in Mount Kitanglad Range in Bukidnon and Mt. Hilong-Hilong in Agusan del Norte.

Most of these areas are also marine protected areas, and contain tracts of rainforest ecosystems. These forests contain 80% of flora and fauna, many of which are native to the Philippines. They are key to global biodiversity, and mitigating climate change.

Environmental activists condemned the AFP’s use of aerial strikes, a militaristic approach to social unrest and activism.

“Bombing and aerial strikes perpetuate long-term environmental degradation, jeopardizing both wildlife and indigenous communities dependent on these critical ecosystems,” they said.

AB: Environment groups call for a halt to the military's destruction of forests