Know My Name:Josephine Pagalan

Urgent Action Fund. For more on Josephine’s work, see Know My Name: Josephine Pagalan


Location: Mindanao, Philippines

WHO: Josephine is a community leader in Surigao del Sur province in the northeastern part of Mindanao. She is a Manobo woman, one of the major tribes of Lumad (indigenous) peoples in the southern Philippines. Along with others, she has protested the incursions of mining operations into her community. For this activism, she and her community have been targeted.

WHAT: The Lianga Bay logging company and the Semirara Coal Mining company have been in Surigao and Agusan del Sur since the 1970s. The Manobo people have been struggling against these companies since then, and lives have been lost in this struggle. By the year 2000, Josephine said that “women started to take over the front line.” The filing of legal cases against the mining company and the documentation of human rights violations by the military and paramilitary groups are critical tasks mostly done by women. As a leader, Josephine works to ensure that the community’s concerns are publicized; she speaks on radio programs and engages the media. When the community stages protest actions, or files legal cases, Josephine goes the media to explain these actions to the public and seek their support.

WHY: Bai Ali is acutely aware of being a human rights defender as a Moro woman. As such, she has been focusing on the rights of Moro women. KAWAGIB is acting as a secretariat to Khadidja Moro Women organization in Davao City, another organization working for the recognition and empowerment of Moro women.

IN HER OWN WORDS: In the past, Josephine felt the military treated women activists with more restraint, “…as if they are facing their mothers.” More recently, violence against women activists is escalating, and concern for her own security is growing, yet this does not deter her. “If I let fear take over, the lives that were taken before will lose their meaning. For those of us who are still alive, we need to continue the struggle. Our rights are not handed down to us, but something we need to fight for.”

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