Leah Tumbalang was a Lumad woman of Mindanao in the Philippines. The story of Lumad Indigenous peoples encompasses generations of resistance to large-scale corporate mining, protection of ancestral domains, resources, culture, and the fight for the right to self-determination.
Leah was a Lumad leader as well as a leader of Kaugalingong Sistema Igpasasindog to Lumadnong Ogpaan (Kasilo), a Lumad and peasant organization advocating against the arrival of mining corporations in Bukidnon, Mindanao province. She was unwavering in her anti-mining activism, fervently campaigning against the devastating effects of mineral extraction on the environment and Indigenous peoples’ lands. Leah was also an organizer of the Bayan Muna party-list, a member of the leftist political party Makabayan.
For almost a decade, Leah (along with other members of Kasilo) had been receiving threats for co-leading opposition against the deployment of paramilitary groups believed to be supported by mining interests.
“Being a Lumad leader in their community, she is at the forefront in fighting for their rights to ancestral land and self-determination.” - Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization
Being at the forefront of resistance also often means being a target of violence and impunity and Leah not only received numerous death threats, but was murdered on 23 August 2019 in Valencia City, Bukidnon.
According to a Global Witness report, “the Philippines was the worst-affected country in sheer numbers” when it comes to murdered environmental activists in 2018.
Read the Global Witness report, published July 2019