Philippines: Mining murders continue, no justice in sight
President Aquino of the Philippines (aka PNoy) has followed up on his Executive Order on mining, aka EO79, (see: Philippines: The President finally publishes, but arguments continue...) with his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Civil society representatives - still queuing up to criticise the Executive Order - have now joined a chorus of concern that the SONA has ignored issues around indigenous peoples' and human rights.
The issue of human rights is particularly troubling considering that, shortly after the EO but before the SONA, the US-based Human Rights Watch reported three cases of impunity being granted to those allegedly responsible for the killings of environmental, especially anti-mining, activists.
One account includes some harrowing video testimony of the repercussions of these killings - http://www.rappler.com/nation/8761-killers-of-mining-critics-remain-at-large
|TVI Pacific's subsidiary has been barring entry of goods into the
minesite at Balabag, Zamboanga del Sur.
Photo: Froilan Gallardo, Mindadnews
Underlining the urgency, there have been more shootings around TVI Pacific's explorations at Balabag, where the company is trying to force out small-scale miners (for previous see: Filipino priest rewarded for his work on mining). Local artisanal miners have sought the protection of the courts - to view the writ please go to: http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/13768160
The government has suspended the operations of China's Shenzou Mining Group in Surigao del Norte, for causing extensive siltation of coastal areas. Earlier, the company had problems over payments to local communities (see: Philippines: Getting away with murder).
Five other companies in the area have also been warned to cease creating siltation in Surigao del Norte.
These include Sumitomo subsidiary, Taganito, which was attacked by the New Peoples Army (NPA) last year, following accusations of its causing major environmental violations (see: Large-scale mining operations in the Philippines attacked).
Lumad Women In Mindanao - New EO 79 Not An Answer To Old Mining Woes
Joint press release
20 July 2012
Although women from various indigenous communities in Mindanao welcome some provisions in the mining EO 79 that may potentially improve the conduct of mining industry in the country, they still asserted that what they need are policies that would directly address the issues they have been raising against mining companies inside their ancestral domains.
According to the unified statement of about 30 IP women from 16 tribes and sub-tribes in Mindanao who participated in a consultation session in Davao City last July 13-16, EO 79 does not respond to the old and urgent issues being raised against mining which are also the primary concerns of women in the community such as threat on livelihood, food security and the continuing disrespect to the rights of the indigenous communities.
The IP women are also disappointed that EO 79 still recognizes current mining contracts as valid and binding as it proclaims that it will only be effective for incoming mining applications.
"Our appeal to the President, even before, was for him to listen to the woes on mining of the indigenous group. For us, B'laans, who are experiencing a lot of hardship because of the Tampakan mining project, the new mining EO has nothing to do with our problems. This does not cover the on-going application of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), We have no one else to depend on in our defense of our communities, but ourselves," said Robina Poblador of a B'laan group in Sarangani Province.
While the EO mandated DENR to conduct review of the existing mining contracts and operations, IP women are still wary that they will not benefit in the process.
"Who will lead the review? DENR? There have been a lot of tears and sweat which went through as we bring our bring our complaints and documented reports of violations to DENR, but nothing has happened," said Wilma Tenoro, member of Subanen tribe and one of the petitioners for Writ of Kalikasan against GAMI mining company in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Norte.
Tenoro also added, "Until there are institutional changes within DENR, and until the bias of the government to mining will change, then this provision of review and monitoring is useless. This EO does not respond to our grievances nor to our interests."
The Lumad women asserted that the President's intervention is needed not just for the future generation who will suffer from the impacts of mining, but also to the ones who are already experiencing the atrocities of degraded environment caused by mining.
According to Bae Rose Undag, a Higaonon leader from Misamis Oriental, "At present, large number of hectares of indigenous people's forests and mountains are being denuded and flattened by mining operations. Several mining permits have been issued in small islands and worst in vast agricultural lands. Why are these not the ones covered by the moratorium? What ecosystems will remain, which the EO aims to protect, if the existing mining operations are not to be stopped in its wanton destruction of our environment? The protection of our environment, agriculture and forests should start now - not tomorrow."
The IP women also asserted that the government should not only speed-up the process for all mining applications but more importantly its procedures in addressing human rights violations involving mining companies.
"This provision reflects the priority concern of the P-Noy Administration, which is to guarantee efficiency in collecting revenues for government - but at what cost? We fear that this process will fast-track mining applications but will side-track the new guidelines of the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). If there should be a mining-related one-stop shop service, it should be one that addresses the human rights violations being reported from the ground. More than just economic efficiency, this EO should provide justice delivery," pointed out by Froilyn Teorio-Mendoza, a Teduray leader from Maguindanao and also the IP spokesperson of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)
The government should acknowledge the complaints within 24 hours and ensures that resolutions will be imposed and served within the period of one year, the group added.
Judy Pasimio, coordinator of LILAK, an IP women rights' advocates group, says, "EO 79 is being touted as a balanced mining policy, a win-win formula by the government, and the mining companies are lauding this. A balanced policy is not what is needed at this point - but a just and equitable mining policy. And we are not simply talking about economic benefits - but also about participation, opportunities for development, especially for the affected communities. While the government works hard to protect the interests of the investors, there should be more protection of the rights and interests of the communities, its constituencies."
"A just and equitable mining policy is what the Alternative Minerals Management Bills (AMMB) is about. This should be passed now," Pasimio asserted.
The Lumad women also committed themselves to work hard for the passage of the AMMB. According to them the call for the alternative laws such as the AMMB that looks at mineral resources as integral part of the biodiversity, environment, food security, livelihood and survival is the urgent task of the country right now.
The statement of the Lumad women was presented to the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) - Women Sectoral Council meeting held in Davao, on July 16-18.
Daryl Leyesa, Secretary General of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan said that it is imperative that women, especially indigenous women and rural women in the mining areas, be consulted on policies that affect their lives and livelihoods. "Mining projects have violated indigenous women's rights in many aspects, especially their role to nurture their families and communities as part of their cultural identity and right to self-determination. It is time to reclaim these rights in every arena possible," she added.
The NAPC Women Council adopted the Resolution that recommended the inclusion of the marginalized women in the processes of the IRR formulation for EO 79, as well as expressed support for the passage of the proposed AMMB.
Meanwhile, ATM said that it is obvious that the government failed to consult the affected communities in drafting the new mining EO. "We encourage the president to visit, stay and sleep in a mining affected community even for a day; talk to these women, to the mothers in the community so that he himself would feel their worries and witness the struggles they have to face because of mining. Let's see if the president will have the same stand again," said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of ATM.
Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB.
KALUMARAN slams President Benigno Aquino's EO 79
Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao Media Statement
23 July 2012
COMING INTO HIS third State of the Nation Address, KALUMARAN slams Benigno Aquino III for violating indigenous peoples' and children's rights in Mindanao, and the wholesale of resources for mining and other investments, especially after the issuance of Executive Order 79.
Two years into his presidency, the Lumads in Mindanao suffer no end to attacks from the military and encroachment of big private businesses onto ancestral domain such as mining and plantations. Our resolve to defend our community and land is met with brute repression from the military, para-military and private goons.
Kalumaran has recorded twelve Lumad leaders murdered by state security forces under Aquino. We also note the killing of Italian priest Fausto Tentorio last October who served the Lumads in North Cotabato and Southern Mindanao.
We condemn the violations of the military and paramilitary on community school children and teachers. Our recent conference called "Save our Schools: Mindanao Conference in Defense of Schools Under Attack" held last July 8 to 10 in Davao, pointed out that the AFP's 'peace and development' programs have disrupted classes through the soldiers' encampment in communities and harassment of teachers, students and community leaders.
We note such incidents have halted classes for months such as in the Blaan Community Literacy School operated by Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services in Malapatan, Sarangani; the Literacy school in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur ran by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines; and the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development in Lianga, Surigao del Sur. Government soldiers have even ransacked classrooms and vandalized school buildings.
Attacks on schools have been identified by the United Nations Security Council as one of the Six Grave Violations of Children's Rights During Armed Conflict, constituting violations of the rules of war and international humanitarian law, and is a possible crime against humanity.
The presence of soldiers and their detachments in civilian communities are violations of several international conventions to which the Philippine government is a signatory, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Millennium Development Goals, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In a recent dialogue on the issue, government agencies such as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Commission on Human Rights and Department of Education did not commit to any concrete resolution regarding the attacks on our schools.
Representatives of these agencies only promoted programs that do not directly respond to the grave violation of our right to education, and deferred any complaints and recommendations to their respective national offices. We will take this issue to the national offices of the relevant government agencies, and raise our demands to Aquino who is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.
We believe that the presence of the military and paramilitary comes as part of the AFP's Oplan Bayanihan, which carries out a deceptive ‘peace and development program' that will pave the way for the Public-Private Partnership in mining investments, agri-businesses and power plants that encroach on our ancestral land. The recent signing of the Executive Order 79 on mining pushes further the sellout of our lands.
Kalumaran demands the Aquino government to immediately pullout military troops in civilian communities, disband paramilitary groups, investigate the violations to the community and to the martyred Lumad leaders, and to scrap the anti-Lumad and anti-people policies such as the Mining Act and EO 79.
Our struggle continues against this national oppression of Lumad indigenous peoples. Our struggle is for justice, and for our future. We remain firm in defending our communities, our land and our culture for the coming generations.(email@example.com)
Lawmaker: Aquino's new mining policy is pro-mining firms
Sun Star Cagayan de Oro
22 July 2012
SENATOR Loren Legarda described President Benigno Aquino III's new mining policy as crafted by mining companies.
Executive Order 79 seemed to be more favorable to the mining sector taking into consideration only tax revenues derived from mining and politics.
In a press conference here, Legarda said although there are set of policies and the reiteration of the existing laws, still EO 79 is bent to serve the interests of the mining sector.
Legarda visited Cagayan de Oro to lead the regional forum for the collaborative workshop of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin to develop effective risk management strategies.
EO 79 series of 2012 is entitled "Institutionalizing and Implementing Reforms in the Philippine Mining Sector Providing Policies and Guidelines to Ensure Environmental Protection and Responsible Mining in the Utilization of Mineral Resources."
However, advocate of the EO admitted of having a not perfect document, but is already good to start until the Congress will enact a new legislation on mining.
EO 79 upholds the principle of "responsible mining" and a promises a "full enforcement of environmental standards" in mining.
Under EO 79, the "no go" zones where mining is prohibited is expanded. Only protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System law are "no go" for mining explorations.
"The new EO now includes "prime agricultural lands, lands under agrarian reform, tourism development areas, island ecosystems and other critical areas."
It has also retained the "moratorium" on the granting of new mining agreements until a new Mining Act is enacted.
For her part, the Philippines, according to Legarda, is the world's most disaster-hit country in 2011 as reported by the Citizen's Disaster Response Center that cost the country at least P26 billion and displaced 15.3 million people due to natural hazards, including the effects of mining.
The Cagayan de Oro River Basin and its tributaries cover a total area of 136,000 hectares, with about 80 percent of its drainage basin located in the province of Bukidnon while the rest in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
The workshop, attended by different local government units, academe, non-government organizations from Northern Mindanao, aims to turn every province, city and municipality disaster-resilient emphasizing the role of cooperation among local governments and stakeholders. (Abigail Chee Kee Malalis)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 23, 2012.
Mining EO disrespects local autonomy'
By Dino Balabo
The Philippine Star
14 July 2012
MALOLOS CITY, Philippines - The new mining policy recently issued by Malacañang is disrespectful of local autonomy and of the expression of different sectors, especially on asset reforms in the country.
Akbayan party-list Rep. Arlene Bag-ao said that Executive Order 79 of President Aquino only legitimized existing mining contracts.
She said the EO does not respect the sentiments of the people affected by mining operations as reflected in ordinances passed by 40 provinces who oppose mining.
Bag-ao cited Section 12 of the EO which instructs local government units that the exercise of their powers and functions must be consistent and in conformity with the regulations, decisions and policies already promulgated by the national government with regard to the management, development and utilization of mineral resources.
Bag-ao noted that the provision of the EO is contradictory to the existing mining law which states that a mining company must secure endorsement from the local government unit that has jurisdiction over the mining site.
She said endorsement from local government units like the province, town, city or barangay is required by law because they are the ones who can best define the classification of the land and the possible impacts on their constituents once it is utilized for mining.
Philippines urged to stop killings of mining foes
18 July 2012
MANILA - President Benigno Aquino should move to stop the killings of anti-mining activists as the Philippines pushes to revitalize the mining sector, a global rights body has said.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it had documented three cases since October last year of three anti-mining and environmental activists allegedly killed by paramilitary forces who may have links to the military.
The victims had opposed mining activities that could displace tribal communities as well as destroy their communities, it said in a statement Tuesday.
"President (Benigno) Aquino has enacted decrees to encourage mining investment in the Philippines but has done little to stop attacks on environmental advocates," said HRW deputy director for Asia, Elaine Pearson.
"He should recognize that respecting human rights is crucial for economic development," she said in the statement.
Aquino issued a new mining policy early this month aimed at boosting revenues from mining and increasing environmental safeguards.
But Pearson said the policy was silent on the issue of alleged rights abuses by paramilitary forces deployed by the military to protect mining companies from attacks mostly by communist guerrillas.
Aquino spokesman Ricky Carandang said the government did not tolerate attacks against environmentalists or other advocacy groups.
He acknowledged previous cases of activists killed, but stressed investigations were being carried out to get those behind the attacks.
"We are doing what we can, and we do recognize the need for these cases to be resolved much more quickly than they are being resolved," he told AFP.
He said linking the deaths to the military was "a sweeping allegation" that could further incite tensions.
In October, Italian activist priest Fausto Tentorio was shot and killed by a gunman while inside his parish compound in the town of Arakan in the southern island of Mindanao.
Four suspects had been identified from a local paramilitary group, though no one has been arrested.
Two other activists were killed in March and May, while in January last year, an environmentalist broadcaster was gunned down in the western island of Palawan for his advocacy.
A former governor who is alleged to have planned the journalist's murder is in hiding after a court ordered his arrest.
Killers of mining critics remain at large
18 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government should redouble efforts to address threats against environmental advocates especially now that it has issued a new order on mining, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday, July 18.
In a statement, Human Rights Watch cited 3 cases since October 2011 where critics of mining and energy projects in the country have been killed.
Margarito J. Cabal, 47, an organizer of a group opposing a hydroelectric dam in Bukidnon province, was gunned down on May 9, 2012. Relatives alleged that the police have not investigated the killing, and no suspect has been arrested, Human Rights Watch said.
Last March 5, a leader of a paramilitary group with a dozen of his men allegedly shot dead Jimmy Liguyon, a village chief in Dao, San Fernando town, Bukidnon, in front of family members.
Relatives said he was killed because he refused to sign an agreement needed to secure a mining investment, and that he had been under military surveillance, the statement added.
The main suspect, the leader of a group called the New Indigenous People's Army for Reforms who's still at large, faces a warrant for his arrest.
The group added that local paramilitary group Bagani ("tribal warriors"), reportedly under military control, was allegedly responsible for the fatal shooting of Italian priest Father Fausto Tentorio, 59, in Arakan, North Cotabato province on Oct 17, 2011.
Fr. Tentorio was a long-time advocate of tribal rights and opposed mining in the area. No one has been arrested for the killing, although the National Bureau of Investigation has recommended charges against four suspects.
"President Aquino has enacted decrees to encourage mining investment in the Philippines but has done little to stop attacks on environmental advocates," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "He should recognize that respecting human rights is crucial for economic development."
On July 2, 2012, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 79, which aims to institutionalize reforms in the Philippine mining sector by "providing policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining."
"While mining and other environmentally sensitive projects promise economic benefits for Filipinos, they should not come at the expense of basic rights, particularly the lives of environmental advocates," Pearson said. "The Aquino government should ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice." - Rappler.com
Philippines: Killings of Environment Advocates Unpunished
Human Rights Watch release
18 July 2012
The Philippine government's failure to address threats and killings of environmental advocates worsens a climate of lawlessness just as the Aquino administration is pushing for new mining investments.
(New York) - The Philippine government's failure to address threats and killings of environmental advocates worsens a climate of lawlessness just as the Aquino administration is pushing for new mining investments.
On July 2, 2012, President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 79, which aims to institutionalize reforms in the Philippine mining sector by "providing policies and guidelines to ensure environmental protection and responsible mining." However, the executive order is silent on the issue of human rights abuses arising from mining investments and on the deployment of paramilitaries at the mines.
"President Aquino has enacted decrees to encourage mining investment in the Philippines but has done little to stop attacks on environmental advocates," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director. "He should recognize that respecting human rights is crucial for economic development."
The government should redouble its investigations into attacks on advocates, particularly when evidence points to the involvement of the military or paramilitary forces, arrest and prosecute all those responsible, and protect witnesses at risk.
Human Rights Watch has documented three cases since October 2011 in which critics of mining and energy projects have been killed, allegedly by paramilitary forces under military control. The activists had been vocal in opposing mining and energy operations which they said threatened the environment and would displace tribal communities from their land.
Margarito J. Cabal, 47, an organizer of a group opposing a hydroelectric dam in Bukidnon province, was gunned down on May 9, 2012. Relatives allege that the police have not investigated the killing, and no suspect has been arrested. Cabal had told relatives that he was under military surveillance and had been called to meet the military regarding his activities.
On March 5, a leader of a paramilitary group with a dozen of his men allegedly shot dead Jimmy Liguyon, a village chief in Dao, San Fernando town, Bukidnon province, in front of family members. Relatives said he was killed because he refused to sign an agreement needed to secure a mining investment, and that he had been under military surveillance. The main suspect, the leader of a group called the New Indigenous People's Army for Reforms, faces a warrant for his arrest, but has been seen going about his usual business in the village.
The local paramilitary group Bagani ("tribal warriors"), reportedly under military control, was allegedly responsible for the fatal shooting of Italian priest Father Fausto Tentorio, 59, in Arakan, North Cotabato province on October 17, 2011. Fr. Tentorio was a long-time advocate of tribal rights and opposed mining in the area. No one has been arrested for the killing, although the National Bureau of Investigation has recommended charges against four suspects. Tentorio's colleagues have alleged that some suspects with military ties have been deliberately left out of the case, and two witnesses and their families are in hiding while others have been threatened.
"While mining and other environmentally sensitive projects promise economic benefits for Filipinos, they should not come at the expense of basic rights, particularly the lives of environmental advocates," Pearson said. "The Aquino government should ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice."
Many mining investments in the Philippines are in areas with large indigenous populations or are controlled by tribal groups. Philippine law requires the "free and prior informed consent" of the local tribal communities for these investments to proceed. This often has divided tribal communities, some of whom back investors with the support of the military to acquire the necessary permits, while tribal factions opposed to the investments sometimes get support from the communist New People's Army or other armed groups. This has resulted in proxy conflicts pitting tribal groups against each other, resulting in numerous rights abuses.
Media and local human rights and environmental groups have reported other attacks against anti-mining and environmental advocates. Sister Stella Matutina, a Benedictine nun who led a grassroots campaign to oppose destructive mining in Davao Oriental, told Human Rights Watch that she continues to fear for her life as the military persists in vilifying her as a communist. She and her fellow advocates say that she is being targeted because of her opposition to mining in the province.
And even in cases where suspects have been identified and face an arrest warrant, they may go unpunished. For instance, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes remains at large despite an arrest warrant for his role in the killing of journalist and environmentalist Gerry Ortega on January 24, 2011.
On July 9, the United Nations special envoys on human rights defenders and on extrajudicial executions issued a joint statement criticizing the Aquino administration for the attacks on human rights and environmental defenders, saying these abuses "have increased significantly over the past few months."
Human Rights Watch reiterated its call to President Aquino to ban all paramilitary forces in the Philippines because of their long and continuing history of serious human rights violations. Aquino has backtracked from earlier pledges to dismantle paramilitaries, saying that getting rid of military-supervised groups "is not the solution." The government claims that paramilitary forces are now better trained and better regulated than in the past. Until such groups are banned, Aquino should revoke a 2011 directive that permits these forces to provide security for mining companies.
"Aquino should disband paramilitary groups that are being used to divide tribal communities and instill fear among the residents," Pearson said. "The government crucially needs to hold accountable the military officers who are behind these abusive forces."
Killings of Environmental Advocates Investigated by Human Rights Watch
Anti-Dam Activist Gunned Down
At approximately 6:30 p.m. on May 9, 2012, Margarito J. Cabal, 47, was shot dead by two men riding a motorcycle near his boarding house in Kibawe town, Bukidnon province. According to a police report seen by Cabal's relatives, one of the assailants wore a motorcycle helmet, and the other a balaclava that covered his face; their motorcycle had no license plate.
Cabal was an organizer for Save Pulangi Alliance, which opposes the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the area, and a government employee for the mayor's office. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Cabal's son, Marjolie, told Human Rights Watch that prior to his father's killing, the military's 8th Infantry Battalion in nearby Maramag town had summoned Cabal on suspicion that he was working for the New People's Army (NPA). "His job with the town mayor required that he would often go to hinterland villages. That might have given them the idea that he was an NPA," Marjolie said. He said his father had told him he was under surveillance by the military.
The general secretary of the Save Pulangi Movement, a tribal leader named Datu Petronilo Cabungcal, said that the area has been the subject of military operations and that the military suspects his group is supporting the NPA. "We are just fighting for our land, our livelihood, that is threatened by this project. Why would that make us communists?" he said.
Cabal's widow, Rosalie, told Human Rights Watch that the police never approached the family about any investigation and that, aside from a police report on the killing, there has not been any effort to investigate her husband's death. "They never bothered to talk to us," she said, adding that she did not know what would happen to the case.
Village Chief Shot Dead in Front of Family
Jimmy Liguyon was the village chief of Dao in San Fernando town and vice chairman of Kasilo, a tribal group opposed to mining and plantations in Bukidnon province. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that on March 5, 2012, at around 6:40 p.m., they saw Alde "Butsoy" Salusad, a known leader of a local paramilitary group, fire an M16 assault rifle at Liguyon point blank. Salusad had arrived at Liguyon's home accompanied by about a dozen men.
Liguyon's widow, Sharon, told Human Rights Watch that the morning before the killing, Liguyon had reiterated his refusal in a village meeting to sign an agreement with a tribal group called San Fernando Matigsalog Tribal Datu Association. Liguyon feared the agreement would facilitate the entry of big mining companies into the tribal areas, where small-scale mining is a major source of livelihood.
In her sworn statement to prosecutors, Sharon said her husband had told her in October 2011 of a phone call he received from Benjamin Salusad, Alde Salusad's father, in which the elder Salusad threatened to have Liguyon killed for not signing a document that would allow mining companies to operate in their village.
Days after the killing, Salusad's group, the New Indigenous People's Army for Reforms, issued a statement claiming responsibility, alleging that Liguyon was a communist. Credible media reports also said that Salusad, in a radio interview in Malaybalay City, had admitted to killing Liguyon.
Leah Tumbalang, a colleague of Liguyon in Kasilo, told Human Rights Watch: "Since we started protesting proposed mining projects, we have been getting threats and have been followed around by men." Tumbalang said she received a text message on October 3, 2011, warning her and Liguyon to make sure to bring their coffins when they went home that day.
Leaders of local groups said Salusad and his father, Benjamin, are the leaders of a tribal group that serves as a paramilitary force for the army in that part of Bukidnon. Both father and son are known former members of the New People's Army; they surrendered to the military last year and, according to Liguyon's colleagues, became members of the CAFGU, the official militia under the command and supervision of the Philippine Army.
The police have investigated the killing and a murder case has been filed, naming Salusad and 14 unknown "John Does" as the suspects. A warrant of arrest was issued against him on April 30, 2012, but has not been served. The Bukidnon police chief, Supt. Rustom Duran told journalists [media reports] that his men tried to arrest Salusad a month after the killing but failed. The governmental Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines has likewise promised to investigate the case but no official report on the investigation has been released.
According to residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch, Salusad continues to reside in Dao village, often accompanying individuals known to be close to the military.
Since Liguyon's death, Salusad's forces have allegedly threatened Liguyon's relatives. Tumbalang, Liguyon's colleague in Kasilo, claimed that she heard Salusad say in a radio interview that she "would be next" after Liguyon. The threats would come through text messages and, in some cases, Salusad's men allegedly directly confronted Liguyon's family members, threatening them with violence.
Italian Priest Known for Tribal Advocacy Killed
In the early morning of October 17, 2011, Father Fausto Tentorio, an Italian priest, was about to get into his vehicle inside the Catholic parish compound in Arakan town, North Cotabato province, in Mindanao, when a gunman shot him to death. Tentorio, 59, was a well-known advocate of tribal rights in Arakan and opposed mining in the area. He is the second Italian priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) to be murdered in the Philippines. As in the case of Father Tullio Favali in April 1985, who was killed by the Civilian Home Defense Forces militia, the suspects in Tentorio's killing are allegedly members of a paramilitary force."
The Tentorio case remains under investigation. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has asked government prosecutors to file cases against four individuals - Jimmy Ato, his brother Robert Ato, Jose Sampulna and his brother Dimas Sampulna - but so far prosecutors have not sought arrest warrants.One of the suspects, Jimmy Ato, is currently in NBI custody after he was arrested for an unrelated case.
The two Atos are known in Arakan as members of a group called Bagani ("tribal warriors"). Bagani is a paramilitary force controlled and supervised by the 57th Infantry Battalion and has been based in the same military camp, according to government documents seen by Human Rights Watch. A former Bagani member told Human Rights Watch that Bagani operates in cooperation with local businessmen and tribal leaders who support new mining and other business projects. Witnesses have made sworn statements to the authorities stating that members of Bagani were responsible for Tentorio's killing. However, other members of Bagani have not been included in the government's investigation, despite witness accounts of their involvement in the killing.
According to government documents seen by Human Rights Watch, the military considered Tentorio an enemy for allegedly aiding the NPA, such as by helping wounded insurgents get medical assistance. One NBI "intelligence report" said Tentorio was an "oppositionist" to energy and mining projects that affected the tribes: "He was a respected leader by the Lumads [tribes], a very influential person who enjoyed the sympathy of the [communists] in the area. In short, he was a man of God that is hated most by those with evil motives."
Father Peter Geremia, an Italian priest also with the PIME, said that various members of Bagani and businessmen who supported the group were not included in the NBI's original charge sheet despite eyewitness evidence linking them to the killing. For instance, one witness told prosecutors that businessmen and the military provided a local tribal leader with a 50,000-peso "budget" for carrying out the killing. In his sworn statement filed with prosecutors, the witness said the leader of the Bagani, Jan Corbala, met with his men days before to plot the killing. Another witness said in his sworn statement that he saw Corbala and the Ato brothers fleeing the crime scene moments after Tentorio was shot. He said Jimmy Ato told him that "killing that priest was rather easy."
Fr. Tentorio had previously faced intimidation from the military, including a June 2009 raid in which army soldiers barged into the church compound without a warrant and with no clear purpose.
For years, the military and Bagani vilified Tentorio and Geremia as NPA supporters. For instance, during a briefing for journalists in May 2006, military intelligence officers from the 40th Infantry Battalion in North Cotabato accused both priests of being communists who taught "revolutionary courses" to the tribal population. The Diocese of Kidapawan complained several times to the authorities, including then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, about the military's harassment and alleged attempts on Tentorio's life by Bagani. "We cannot overemphasize the need to stop this baseless accusation of our priests and lay workers," Kidapawan Bishop Romulo Valles wrote to Col. Isagani Cachuela, then commander of the army's 602nd Brigade, on March 24, 2004. "And this must be done soonest, before name-tagging could claim another life."
Officials from the Philippine military and the NBI, in separate interviews with Human Rights Watch, denied allegations of military involvement in the killing and a cover-up. Col. Cesar Sedillo, commander of the army's 602nd Brigade that covers North Cotabato, said no military personnel was involved in Tentorio's murder and denied the existence of Bagani."
Angelito Magno, the NBI's regional director in North Cotabato who is leading the investigation, said, "We are continuously investigating who are the masterminds" of the killing. He also denied that the bureau is protecting the military, saying it is guided by the evidence.
The witnesses in the case feel threatened by Fr. Tentorio's killers. Those who entered the government's Witness Protection Program have been compelled to leave Arakan with their families and go into hiding. Fr. Geremia said that he has repeatedly written to the Justice Department urging action, to expedite the case by forming a special investigation, to protect the witnesses. "The witnesses are about to give up hope and feel that your WPP [Witness Protection Program] is causing them to be like prisoners while the accused roam around freely threatening their families," Geremia said in a May 29 letter to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
AFP denies soldiers killing anti-mining activists
By Alexis Romero Home
19 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines - The military on Thursday denied that some paramilitary elements are behind the killing of some anti-mining activists.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. stressed that extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses are not part of their policy.
"It has never been the policy of the AFP to use force beyond legal means," Burgos said in a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Burgos was reacting to the claim of New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) that it had documented three incidents of killings of environment activists since October.
The three anti-mining activists were allegedly slain by paramilitary forces that might have links with the AFP.
The HRW also claimed that President Aquino has done little to stop attacks on environmental activists.
Burgos challenged the HRW to present proof that the paramilitary troops, which are being supervised by Army personnel, are involved in the killing of mining critics.
"That claim has to be supported with pieces of evidence. The AFP has been open in terms of investigation like this. We will cooperate with investigating agencies," he said.
Burgos assured that soldiers and militia men are educated about the importance of upholding human rights in all their operations.
"We have been conducting troop education and information on upholding the rule of law, protection of human rights and seminar on rules of engagement," he said.
Burgos said the militiamen and Army soldiers are even involved in programs aimed at preserving the environment.
"If they (HRW) have complaints, they should file it before the proper venue. When it comes to investigation, we will be cooperating," he said, adding that the AFP would not condone any wrongdoings by soldiers.
Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said they are saddened by the "relentless flurry of accusations" hurled against them.
"Our soldiers are aware of their great responsibility of placing human rights protection on top of the list every time they carry out mandated tasks," Cabunoc said in a statement.
"Our soldiers have shown compassion even to those who insist to engage in a shooting war with them," he added.
Cabunoc said he is wondering why their critics are not noticing the atrocities committed by communist rebels.
He said the New People's Army has been using landmines banned by international treaties and is employing child warriors.
"We will continuously support the government in putting to an end all armed conflicts, by observing the primacy of the peace process and by continuing our Bayanihan activities aimed at winning the peace," Cabunoc said.
Mediaman files petition for Writ of Amparo for threats
Sun Star Cagayan de Oro
24 July 2012
A MEDIA practitioner and seven other people, including a member of the Municipal Council in Bayug, Zamboanga del Sur, filed a petition for Writ of Amparo before the Court of Appeals (CA) in Cagayan de Oro City for alleged threats from the officers and agents of Toronto Ventures Inc. (TVI) Resource Development (TVIRD).
Also included as respondents were Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles, Mayor Leonardo Babasa of Bayug town also in Zamboanga del Sur, the Blue Guards and SCAA of the 53rd Infantry Battalion and 102nd Brigade of Tabak Division.
Joselito Pedrano, a broadcast journalist based in Pagadian City, and seven others from barangays Balabag and Depore in Bayug, Zamboanga del Sur, filed the petition on July 12 after allegedly receiving threats via text messages and electronic mail.
They also sought court protection and asked for investigation against TVIRD.
The petition was heard by Justices Romulo Borja, Ma. Luisa Quijano and Pedro Corrales on Friday at the CA in Cagayan de Oro.
Lawyer Glocelito Jayma, petitioner's counsel, however, is optimistic that the court will wrap up and will give immediate resolution on the petition.
"The clients are in need of immediate protection since they are in danger and are under threat," Jayma said.
The petition came after the complainants received series of emails from alleged TVIRD executives ordering their "liquidation" through "PLAN-X."
The said "PLAN-X," according to the complainants, has the approval of Cerilles, who is identified as CN-GAC in the email.
When reached for comment, executives of TVIRD refused to give their statement pending the hearing of the petition.
TVIRD is the Philippine affiliate of TVI Pacific Inc. (TSX: TVI), a publicly-listed Canadian mining company involved in the exploration and production of precious and base metals. It has assembled a team with exceptional skill in all aspects of mining and exploration and has acquired, or applied for, an impressive portfolio of properties in the Philippines. (Abigail Chee Kee Malalis)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 25, 2012.
Fight over rights to Zambo mineral area steps up
Philippine Daily Inquirer
29 July 2012
BAYOG, Zamboanga del Sur—The fight between Canadian mining firm TVI Resources Development Phils. (TVIRD) and small-scale miners over rights to the mineral-rich Sitio Balabag in Barangay Depore here intensified with the recent shooting incident that killed a small-scale miner, the police said.
The incident took place on Wednesday, about two weeks after the Court of Appeals issued a writ of amparo and protection order in favor of a Pagadian-based journalist, who is critical of TVIRD, and several officials of a small-scale mining association against TVI and other entities and personalities.
Superintendent Wiliam Mansan, Zamboanga del Sur police chief, said on Thursday that armed TVIRD employees fired on a group of small-scale miners, who were hauling equipment to their mining area in Purok 7 on Wednesday evening.
He identified the slain miner as Wilbert Catampungan. Two others, Mansan said, were injured as a result of the shooting.
The shooting “was due to the conflicting claims between TVIRD and the community of small-scale miners over the place,” Mansan said.
He said two suspects, who he identified as Godofredo Jr. and Jungoy Dingcong, had surrendered and were being detained. “Charges are being readied against them,” Mansan said.
The conflicting claims over gold and copper-rich areas in this town between the small-scale miners, who belong to Monte de Oro Small-Scale Miners Association (Mossma), and TVIRD have been going on for years.
Mossma, which started in the area in 1987, is banking on a law governing small-scale mining in the country. Besides, the group said its members came to the area 10 years before TVI set foot there.
TVIRD is an assignee of a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) covering 4,779 hectares issued by the national government to Zamboanga Minerals Corp. on Nov. 20, 1997.
Mossma has proposed a “peaceful coexistence,” said Arandy Silva, one of Mossma’s officials, but TVIRD had always resorted to violence.
On July 12, the 21st Division of the Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro City issued a writ of amparo in favor of Joselito Pedrano, a Pagadian City-based broadcaster, along with members of Mossma, against the mining company and local and military officials.
In their petition, Pedrano and the Mossma members said since its arrival in Sitio Balabag in Bayog in 2006, TVIRD has resorted to various forms of violence and intimidation to drive away the community of small-scale miners and to silence critics of the mining firm.
Pedrano said in his case, he has been receiving threatening text messages because of his commentaries against TVIRD’s activities and harassments.
One of the text messages, he said, explicitly warned him of suffering the same fate as that of Jun Jalapit if Pedrano insisted on criticizing the mining company.
Jalapit was the Pagadian City broadcaster who was shot and killed on Nov. 17, 2000.
Pedrano said what alarmed him most were incidents like armed men tailing him.
The seven Mossma officials—Silva, Roselyn Silva, Edgar Baling, Dennis Paquit, Julieto Monding, Joel Cayabyab and Alex Cabug-os—also claimed to have experienced what Pedrano had gone through.
They have suspected that officials like Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Antonio Cerilles, Bayog Mayor Leonardo Babasa; and the Special Civilian Active Auxiliaries under the supervision of the 53rd Infantry Battalion, 102nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay, had condoned TVI’s harassment of the small-scale miners.
Babasa said he wondered why he was included in the list of respondents. “I only became mayor in 2010. The case stemmed from 2005. We never issued any social acceptance certificate to TVIRD,” he said via a text message.
Cerilles did not reply to the Inquirer’s request for comment while Maj. Gen. Rainier Cruz, commander of the 1st ID, said he has to receive a copy of the order first before he can comment. “I haven’t gotten any,” he told the Inquirer by phone.
Gene Gregorio, TVIRD public affairs director, has deferred any comment on the writ saying he still has to consult their legal department. Tito Fiel, with reports from JB Deveza and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao
Zambo Sur mining violence: 1 dead, 2 wounded
27 July 2012
ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/26 July) - A small-scale miner was killed while two others were wounded in a shooting incident allegedly involving a security guard of a foreign mining company in Zamboanga del Sur on Wednesday, military and police officials said.
Capt. Albert Caber, spokesman of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, identified the fatality as Wilbert Catampungan, who was declared dead on arrival at the Bayog Medical Clinic.
Wounded were Roroy Dalangon, 20, and Jomar Tumales, 19, Caber said.
The cause of the incident was not immediately clear.
It took place at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Purok 7, Sitio Balabag, Barangay Depore, Bayog in Zamboanga del Sur.
Caber said the Bayog police are still conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the incident.
Supt. Diomarie Albarico, Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Public Safety Battalion commander, said the victims were hit after "burst of gun fires were heard coming from the direction of a TVIRD blue guard outpost."
He was referring to Canadian mining firm TVI Resource Development, Inc., which is conducting exploration activities for its gold and silver project in the area.
Albarico did not say what preceded the incident except that responding policemen from the 2nd company of the 9th Regional Public Safety Battalion have recovered Catampungan and rushed the victim to the Bayog Medical Clinic.
Caber said that a lawyer of TVIRD identified only as a certain Atty. Estaño turned over Godofredo Jungoy, Jr. and a caliber .45 pistol to the police in Bayog town at around 9:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Jungoy was turned over to the police since he was the suspect in the shooting incident, Caber said. (Mindanews)
Gov't suspends miner's operations in Surigao
5 other companies in the area warned
Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
23 July 2012
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said it had suspended the mining operations of Shenzou Mining Group Corp. in Claver, Surigao del Norte, for causing extensive siltation of coastal areas.
MGB issued the suspension order based on the findings of a multisectoral team led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that the company had failed to adequately address the siltation incidents in its area and even made the situation worse by building a "settling pond" on the sea - a malpractice in mining. A settling pond is a structure where silt-laden water is impounded temporarily to allow silt materials to settle down and for water to overflow silt-free.
Prior to the issuance of the suspension order, MGB said it had written Shenzou and five other mining companies in the area about the siltation problem and required them to show cause why their operations should not be suspended. The other firms were Adnama Mining Resources Inc., Platinum Group Metals Corp., C.T.P. Construction and Mining Corp., Sumitomo-led Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. and Taganito Mining Corp.
All, except Shenzhou, had responded and reported how they were addressing the problem.
Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp. and TMC said they were implementing "several control measures" to address siltation in their areas in Claver, Surigao del Norte.
Taganito HPAL is constructing a processing plant beside the area where TMC operates a nickel mine.
MGB Director Leo L. Jasareno said his office expected further actions and gave the five companies 60 days from the receipt of MGB's latest letter to "fully address" siltation in their area, subject to validation by the multisectoral team led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Taganito HPAL Nickel Corp., a subsidiary of Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., Ltd. (SMM), is building a nickel processing plant using High Pressure Acid Leach or HPAL technology.
TMC is 65 percent owned by Nickel Asia Corp., the local partner in the Taganito HPAL project.
The $1.3-billion Taganito HPAL plant being built in Surigao del Norte was designed to produce nickel/cobalt mixed sulfide. The initial capacity of mixed sulfide production at Taganito would be 30,000 tons per year.
MGB orders suspension of mining operations of Chinese nickel miner
By Czeriza Valencia
The Philippine Star
22 July 2012
MANILA, Philippines - The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has ordered the suspension of the operations of nickel miner Shenzou Mining Group Corporation in Claver, Surigao del Norte because of excessive siltation in the area.
The MGB declared the suspension in an order dated July 18, 2012.
Shenzou is the Operator of Claver Mineral Development Corporation (CMDC) under Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) No. 103-98-XIII(SMR) which was granted to CMDC by the MGB on February 23, 1998.
The MPSA covers the contract area of 433.9798 hectares located in Claver, Surigao del Norte.
In 2011, Shenzou was able to ship out 1.9 million tons of nickel ore to China valued at P1.09 billion.
The order of suspension was issued after the assessment of the MGB's multi-disciplinary team.
The team reported that Shenzou failed to address over siltation in the area and " aggravated" the situation by constructing a settling pond by the sea.
A settling pond is a structure where silt-laden water is impounded temporarily so that silt is able to settle down, after which water is allowed to overflow silt-free.
The Multi-disciplinary team is composed of scientists from MGB, the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR, University of the Philippines (UP)-National Institute of Geological Sciences, UP-Marine Science Institute and Bureau of Soils and Water Management.
MGB said that prior to the issuance of the suspension order, it wrote to Shenzou about the siltation problem and required it to show cause why its mining operation in the area should not be suspended.