MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Anti-mining activists murdered after elections in the Philippines

Published by MAC on 2010-05-23
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer Southern Luzon

The elections have just finished in the Philippines. It has been one of the most violent elections in recent history, partly thanks to the massacre of primarily journalists in Maguindanao in September 2009.

However, low-level violence continued through to polling with violence meted out against environmentalists and anti-mining advocates particularly high on the agenda.

Even though the elections have finished, the violence continues, including further violence on the island of Mindoro where Norwegian Intex Resources is pushing through its nickel project.

Anti-mining activist shot dead in Oriental Mindoro

By Madonna Virola

Inquirer Southern Luzon

17 May 2010

CITY OF CALAPAN, Philippines - An active member of the anti-mining movement in Oriental Mindoro was shot dead shortly before he was to attend a church service Sunday morning in the city, police said Monday morning.

Chief Superintendent Paul Mascariñas, MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan) police director said Mike Rivera had just alighted from a car at around 9:15 a.m. in front of the Calapan United Evangelical Church of the Philippines on Ramirez St., San Vicente Central, when two unidentified gunmen fired at him.

Mascariñas, citing a report from the Calapan city police, said Rivera was shot once in the head and another in the chest.

Rivera was immediately brought to the Holy Cross Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Rivera was officer of the non-government organization Kaunsayan Formation for Community Development (Kafcode), which advocates, among others, environmental protection. His wife Doris is currently director of Kafcode and active in the civil society movement.

At one time, Rivera served as officer-in-charge provincial administrator in the provincial government.

Gov't asked: Probe Cagayan anti-mining activist killings

Philippine Daily Inquirer

19 May 2010

MANILA, Philippines-Environmental and human rights group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) seeks government help to fast-track investigation in the series of killings and violence that targeted anti-mining leaders in Buguey, Cagayan and calls for a stricter implementation of peace and order measures in the province.

"We have already recorded five deaths of anti-mining activists within the span of six months since November last year," ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garaganera said in a news release.

Garganera said the most recent incident against anti-mining activists was when San Lorenzo barangay (village) liaison officer Adamson Arellano was shot in the leg and foot by unidentified men while he was riding his motorcycle on a national highway in barangay Villagracia on May 17.

"Arellano is lucky to have escaped death. But it is not the same for the five anti-mining activists who have already died from the brutal killings while their respective families have yet to claim justice," said Garganera.

"Mining in Cagayan is a hot political issue. The recent election in Cagayan has been the battleground between the pro- and anti-mining candidates. Right now we fear for the lives of other anti-mining local officials and activists, who remain strong on their position against mining operations in the province especially in Buguey," added Garganera.

The anti-mining group asks that government probe the recent shooting of Arellano and the killings of William Arzadon, Conrado Buenaflor, Gensun Agustin, Pedrito Tabaco, and Alfredo Rabit.

"We also ask government law enforcement authorities to implement stricter measures to keep the peace and order in the Cagayan, especially in Buguey," said Garganera.

Recently, Fula barangay captain William Arzadon died on the spot when he received multiple gunshots from unidentified men while riding his motorcycle on his way home in Buguey on May 15.

Conrado Buenaflor, member of the Citizen Action Unit (CAU) and head of Task Force Lapu-Lapu, which monitors shoreline mining and illegal fishing activities under the leadership of Taruc, was shot by an unidentified gunman in front of his own residence in Barangay Leron on May 9. Buenaflor passed away on May 13, after days of struggle for his life in a hospital in Tuguegarao.

Gensun Agustin, one of the leaders of the anti-mining civil society group Alliance of Buguey Community Development Advocates (Albucoda) and member of the Federation of Anti-Mining Advocates in Cagayan (Famac) was gunned down by unidentified men last March 1 while on his way home after delivering a lecture on mining impacts in Buguey.

Anti-mining advocates Pedrito Tabaco and his brother-in-law Alfredo Rabit were gunned down by unidentified men while riding together in a motorcycle on their way home in Barangay Leron Buguey on November 30 last year.

"Arellano, Arzadon, Buenaflor, Agustin, Tabaco and Rabit were all known strong supporters of staunch anti-mining Buguey mayor Ignacio Taruc who recently ran against the son of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and another contender for the House Representative seat in Cagayan first district," said Garganera.

Taruc garnered 40.42 percent of the total votes in the Congressional race, which was won by Juan Ponce C. Enrile Jr. with 56.23 percent votes according to the Commission on Election (Comelec) results.

Buguey is rich in black sand (magnetite) eyed by mining companies. Its wetlands have been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA), significant staging and wintering area for migratory water birds but the site has no official protected status yet.

ATM is an advocacy group and people's movement composed of more than 80 organization ranging from mining-affected communities and civil society organizations nationwide convened by Haribon, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Friends of the Earth Philippines, and Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas.

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