Toronto Hot Docs 2022 screened “Delikado” but due to an overwhelming volume of films received I could not review it until it is too late to watch it in theatre or virtually within that Festival. But it is an engrossing documentary that will not fade away and keep an eye out for it in your country.
The Palawan Rain Forest is one of the oldest and most diverse rainforests in the world. But it is also an emerging tourist destination, a rich fishing ground, a site for plantations, a prime illegal logging ground and a hotbed for corruption and violence. Global Witness has declared the Philippines the most dangerous country in the world for environmentalists.
The Palawan Rain Forest is being stripped by resort developers, plantation development, illegal fishing and illegal logging. Yet the corrupt political system aids the rain forest rapists under the guise of “development” that would seem to be driven by relatives of politicians “developing” the area. The Governor of the province where Palawan is located has a brother who owns a resort in Palawan and the Governor of that region is a cousin of human rights violator President Duterte. You oppose the President and his relatives and cronies and suddenly you are a narco-politician and subject to harassment and death threats. The machinery of the state is oiled very well by greed and corruption not a true war against narcotics.
As the police, army and allies of Duterte are defenders of commercial interests raping and pillaging Palawan it is up to desperate citizen groups in Palawan such as the Palawan NGO Network Incorporated (PNNI) to stalk illegal loggers and fishers and steal their chainsaws and boats and damage their equipment. But the illegals are poor and desperate and they are the pawns of commercial interests operating out of Manila. But the PNNI has had many of its activists murdered. The environmentalist mayor of a Palawan village El Nido is facing re-election is put on Duterte’s “narco politicians list” and threatened with murder for being one of his opponents. The mayor is harassed and tailed by the police and arms herself. She loses the election to a candidate Edna Lim who publicly favours big business and unchecked tourist development and muses that politicians paying off voters is the way in the Philippines.
Perhaps I will stop here. A few years ago I reviewed a documentary about the Philippines fighting Muslim insurgents as a civil war. It was not received well in the Philippines. I don’t buy Duterte’s war on narcos as a true war but a brazen and brutal attempt to cleanse any opposition to his regime and hand it back to the Marcos family. Where are his mobile crematoriums?
A rather depressing and repetitive theme of violation of the rights of indigenous people. In Peru it is destructive gold mining and in the Philippines the “development” of Palawan with cash registers ringing in Manila.
Directed by Karl Malakunas.