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The Philippines: DELIKADO, 2022, Karl Malakunas

By: Claus Mueller, Senior Editor

We live in a period with unending destruction of the natural environment. This destruction ranges from the large-scale unfreezing of Siberian permafrost to the destruction of Indonesian jungle forests for palm oil and the desertification of huge African regions. Documentaries about the action guided opposition of indigenous and other peoples who are victimized but refuse to accept these conditions are welcome.

DELIKADO, a 2022 feature length documentary by Karl Malakunas, coproduced by ITVS and POV with support from the Dutch Bertha fund, is an outstanding example of the refusal to accept dominant economic and political interests. DELIKADO documents how the forests and habitats of the tropical Philippine Island of Palawan are destroyed, an island which is the home of Philippines largest rainforest. Deforestation and illegal logging, the establishment of a road system spanning the island to support residential and tourist settlements, and the dislocation of tribal peoples leads to the destruction of their culture and traditions. These changes were conducted with the backing of the regional island government and covert support from the federal government, justified by the supposed benefit of economic expansion for everyone, ignoring the consequences of suspending any environmental considerations. The former president, Rodrigo Duterte, influenced local elections by alleging that a mayor running for reelection was tied to the drug trade.

As Malakunas shows, community-based groups are risking their lives to save their habitats. Their struggle persists without support from local authorities or outside funding. It is carried out through a self-financed non-governmental organization that locates illegal loggers and fishers, making citizen’s arrests. A sculpture made of chain saws confiscated from loggers placed in front of their small NGO office symbolized their success until it was dismantled when a new mayor close to business interests and hostile to environmental concerns was elected. The small group of individuals tracking illegal loggers did not disband. They continue their work, though each year around the world, in Brazil, Congo, Peru, and elsewhere, more illegal logging takes place, and more land defenders are killed

DELIKADO has not been shown in the Philippines but is screened by many film festivals. The filmmakers hope that viewing the documentary will empower and motivate people to act against environmental devastations and human rights violations victimizing indigenous people.

DELIKADO will be shown on POV in the USA September 22, 2022.



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