October 22, 2012
Reference: Gary Labao, New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, nychrp

New York, NY— The well-known activist and former frontman of legendary rock band “The Police”, Sting, moved his Manila performance for the “Back to the Bass” tour from the Mall of Asia due to the corporation’s questionable environmental practices. The announcement earned praises from various New York Filipino activists.

Sting was scheduled to perform at the Mall of Asia on December 9. However, it is owned by the same company responsible for the uprooting and relocation of 182 pine trees in the northern Philippines city of Baguio, in order to build another shopping complex. Sting, pressured by a petition by Filipino environmental activists, decided to move the venue for his upcoming concert.

“As activists, we at the NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP) support Sting because he is a well-known human rights advocate and an active supporter of Amnesty International,” said Yoko Liriano. “However, beyond the clearing of pine trees, thousands of urban poor communities and families across the Philippines are forcibly demolished and relocated by the government daily to make way for the development of malls and other commercial infrastructure, serving the interest of foreign multi-national companies,” Liriano added. “NYCHRP believes that Sting should not limit his position to the trees in Baguio, but also consider using his celebrity to shed light on the rampant human rights violations experienced by FIlipinos due to aggressive corporate development,” Liriano proposed.

Hanalei Ramos, member of NYCHRP, said “Sting’s decision couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Right now, there are serious human rights abuses due to increased corporate development aggression on the environment in the Philippines. The uprooting of trees in Baguio City is only the tip of the iceberg.”

Ramos further explained that foreign mining corporations prospecting in communities and extracting ore have tremendously impacted environmental safety for the local communities surrounding mined areas. “The Philippines is experiencing an alarming stage of development aggression wherein indigenous communities are forced to relocate from their ancestral homes, leading to violent measures either by developers, the government, or a combination of both. Scores of anti-mining leaders and activists have been either abducted and/or killed by the military,” she continued.

“Most recently, Juvy Capion, wife of anti-mining indigenous leader, Daguil Capion, was murdered, along with their two sons in South Cotabato by the Philippine Army. This is one of several instances where intimidation is used by elements of the Philippine military to quell the growing anti-mining movement. The conditions are dire for local community members who oppose the aggressive mining development in their ancestral lands. We hope the Baguio trees are the gateway for celebrities like Sting to better understand the multiple consequences of environmental development in the Philippines, particularly around mining,” Ramos said. “We hope he, and all entertainers continue to bring Filipino peoples’ struggles for environmental concerns to the mainstream, particularly the human rights abuses often resulting in these struggles,” she demanded.

“We must also commend the collective action of the people who protested and lobbied against corporate greed and who tirelessly brought the issue out to the community, leading to this victory of Sting cancelling his show at SM MOA Arena. This must send a signal to the business owners that their inappropriate ways will not do their business good if they go against the people’s demands,” said Jonna Baldres of the BKK Artist Collective, also based in New York City. “Sting has not only upheld the protection of the environment but also the rights of the indigenous people who are greatly affected by the commercialization of the lands in Baguio by big companies. Artists must take on Sting’s example and stand up against the injustices done to the environment and to the people. Artists are responsible and accountable to their audience,” she went on.

Sting’s record as an activist includes his long time affiliation with human rights group, Amnesty International. He also wrote and released “They Dance Alone,” which highlights the political disappearances in Chile under the Pinochet government. Together with his wife, Trudie Styler, they established an environmental protection group called the Rainforest Foundation Fund in 1989 to help save rainforests in Brazil. Sting is scheduled to perform on Saturday, December 9 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Metro Manila as part of the “Back to the Bass Tour.” ###