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Lito Abion - Stop killings in the Philippines. Credit: Humanrightsinasean

Lito Abion

HRD, member

Lito Abion was a human rights defender and a member of Tagdumahan, a grassroots organisation in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, which fights for the rights of Lumad - an indigenous community in Mindanao. Tagdumahan has been resisting the entry of mining in the ancestral lands of the Banwaon and Manobo communities in Agusan del Sur due to environmental and economic concerns about the impact of the mining project on Lumad's livelihood. On 28 September 2015, human rights defender Mr Lito Abion was shot dead by unidentified men in Agusan del Sur.

The situation of human rights defenders has improved, to an extent, since the end of the Arroyo administration in 2010, but the current government has failed to address continuing violations against HRDs. HRDs still face extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, fabricated charges, arrest, denial of bail, threats and intimidation, and restrictions on their rights of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Heavy militarisation in some areas, Mindanao in particular, significantly affects the work of HRDs.

Of serious concern is the persistence of extrajudicial killings and physical attacks against HRDs, nearly all of which are perpetrated with impunity. The Philippines, despite being a party to several international human rights treaties which impose a duty on the state to investigate alleged violations of the right to life, has provided human rights defenders with little or no protection.