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Indigenous People Seeking to Reclaim Their Land Are Murdered in the Philippines &shy a New U.S.Ally in the "War On Terrorism"

November 19, 2001

Here on Democracy Now! we’ve been taking a look at just who the new U.S. allies are. We’ve looked at Uzbekistan,Russia, China, and now the Philippines. There has been very little coverage of the Philippines in the U.S. media.Since September 11, the little coverage there has been has focused on the Muslim insurgency in the southern islands.

But there are other stories to tell. Recently, a coalition of indigenous people on the island of Mindanao began toorganize to reclaim their land, which was taken over first in the 1960s by cattle ranchers and is now occupied bysugar plantations which supply to multinational corporations.

On September 6, one of the leaders of the indigenous people’s coalition was murdered. According to his relatives, hewas targeted because of his pursuit of land claims. Later that month, the house of another prominent leader was firedon, and two weeks later, two others were killed. Most recently, on October 19th, an entire village was burned to theground. Many of the people involved in the land claims lived in the village.

After the attacks, the local police did nothing. But Witness, a team of Canadian filmmakers, and Filipino journalistJoey Lozano joined forces and pressured the national government by writing letters, articles, and petitions, andusing Witness video footage to publicize the attacks and the government inaction.

The National Bureau of Investigation is now looking into the attacks.


  • Joey Lozano, an award-winning journalist from the Philippines who focuses on human rights andenvironmental issues. He is currently a correspondent with the Philippine Daily Inquirer and has worked withWitness since 1996.
  • Sam Gregory, Witness program coordinator.
  • Dan Wilson, protest organizer from the Network in Support of the People of the Philippines.

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