MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippines Update

Published by MAC on 2006-06-09

Philippines Update

9th June 2006

Although there are many updates on mining in the Philippines, not least the continuing arguments over Lafayette's Rapu Rapu mine, the main issue dominating civil society concern is the escalating killings of activists. These have averaged four every week since the beginning of this year. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Amnesty International, even the regime’s own Commission of Human Rights, are among the many Philippine and international organizations which have declared their deep concern over the escalation of extrajudicial killings.

As reported on MAC in March 2006, mining campaigner and activist Joey Estribar is still missing, now presumed dead. Recently a left-wing organiser from the South Tagalog region, Noli Capulong, was killed allegedly for openly speaking against mining activities in the region. On 8th June a member of MAC board members, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), was killed this. Rafael Markus Bangit, the Coordinator of the Elders Desk of the CPA, was gunned down in public. This follows the killing in May, in similar circumstances, of Jose Doton, a peasant leader linked with the CPA in defence of the Agno river. There are concerns for other members of the CPA who are on a death squad hit list that the CPA got hold of in February this year. As the days pass it becomes ever more dangerous for Filipinos to voice legal opposition to the activities of the current regime in the Philippines.

Statement of condemnation of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines

6th June 2006

We at Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks) are gravely concerned, as are many around the world, by the mounting number of cases of assassination and terrorizing of legitimate legal opponents of policies of your government. We are particularly concerned at the increasing victimization of environmentalists and environment defenders. The environmental crisis in the Philippines is grave and growing.

The future of the country depends on the growing movement of environmental defenders and those prepared to act and speak out to defend the environment. That such people are being subjected to extra-udicial killings, threats, vilification and legal harassment while the dubious actions of mining and logging companies is condoned and facilitated by such repression, is a bloody stain upon the reputation of the Philippines and of the current administration.

We endorse the calls of Kalikasan, Amnesty International and others for an immediate end to extrajudicial killings, swift and effective action to investigate such crimes and the prosecution of perpetrators. We call for the withdrawal and investigation of military units and commanders from the areas most associated with extrajudicial killings. We call for an end to intimidation, threats and character assassination campaigns against Human rights and environmental defenders and for the protection of freedom of speech and the right to dissent.

Geoff Nettleton
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)


9th JUNE 2006

It is with intense outrage and anguish for us to learn that one of our colleagues, Rafael Markus Bangit was gunned down, together with a bystander, Gloria Casuga, last night, June 8, in San Isidro, Echague, Isabela. Days prior to the incident, Markus noticed that he was being tailed by sinister-looking men while he was in Tabuk with his family.

We cry for justice for the never-ending assassination of activists and innocent civilians. No amount of lip service and empty promises from the President, military, and other government officials is acceptable. The political killings must stop and justice must be served to all the victims and their families. The state has become a mass murderer, killing all who threaten it with impunity, and should be made accountable for its gross violation of human rights. When will this state ever respect the sanctity of life and the right of its opponents to live? The worsening political repression will only serve to ignite more unrest, and the government will soon find itself crumbling under the weight of the people's wrath.

Markus was born on October 24, 1959 (47 years old) and a leader of the Malbong tribe of Tomiangan, Tabuk, Kalinga. He was married to Augustina Pito Bangit and had four children, the eldest is 15 years old while the youngest is 5 years old. He was a doting father and a loving husband.

At the time of his death, Markus was the Coordinator of the Elders Desk of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and also of the Bodong Pongors Association (BPO), a federation of Cordillera tribal elders affiliated with the CPA.

Markus was also one of the senior members of the CPA regional secretariat and had been playing the role of a big brother and confidante to junior secretariat members. Since August 2004, he had been based in the CPA regional office in Baguio, while his family remained in Tabuk, Kalinga.

For more than three decades, Markus Bangit devoted his time, energy, and skills to the strengthening of the Cordillera mass movement. He started as a very young activist in the mid-1970s, when his village was under threat of being submerged in one of the four megadams that the Marcos dictatorship was planning to build on the Chico river. He joined the militant opposition to the Chico Dam Project, actively participating in the land defense activities of his people whenever he was home in Tomiangan, and in the public information and protest activities of Kalinga college students in Baguio whenever he was in the city.

Markus continued in the path of activism, mainly within Kalinga, and became the Chair of CPA-Kalinga from 1995 to 1998. He became Secretary-General of Bayan Muna-Kalinga in 2001 and is now its Vice Chair.

From 1994 to 2000, Markus also became active in local government, first as the Secretary then as a Councilman of Barangay Dupag, the barangay which has administrative jurisdiction over Tomiangan.

Inspite of his relative youth, he was very much respected by the elders of his tribe. This respect grew as Markus displayed increasing skill in the settlement of inter-tribal disputes and deepening knowledge of the bodong (peacepact) system. Eventually, Markus became a peacepact holder himself.

With the death of Rafael Markus Bangit, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and its allied organizations - indeed, the Cordillera mass movement as a whole - lost one of its most highly committed and valuable leaders.

We denounce the killing of Markus Bangit both as a political crime and a crime against humanity. It is another barbaric act by a government that perpetuates itself in power through the might of the gunbarrel. Many others among us activists remain under heavy surveillance and in imminent danger of assassination by the death squads of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government.

We demand justice, and we demand respect for human rights. We call upon the people to make their voices heard and cry for a stop to all political killings and to all violations of the fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Let us persevere in struggling for the transformation of our society into a just, democratic, and peaceful one. Let no tyrant continue to rule and subvert the will of our people!

Joan Carling, CPA Chairperson
Windel Bolinget, CPA Secretary General


CASE: Extra Judicial Killing


1.Mr. Rafael Markus Bangit, 47 years old, a leader of the Malbong Tribe of Tomiangan, Tabuk, Kalinga; married to Augustina Pito Bangit; with four children; resident of 25 J St, Dagupan Centro, Tabuk, Kalinga; coordinator of the CPA elders desk and also regional coordinator/spokesperson of the Bodong Pongors Organization (BPO), a federation of tribal elders in the Cordillera, Vice Chair of BAYAN MUNA Kalinga Chapter (detailed profile and background in a separate sheet)

2.Mrs. Gloria Casuga, Principal, Quezon National High School, Isabela; respected teacher and second mother to her students

PLACE OF INCIDENT: Barangay San Isidro, Municipality of Echague, Province of Isabela

DATE and TIME OF INCIDENT: 6 PM June 8, 2006

PERPETRATOR: unidentified, hooded gunman in a dark colored van, plate number unreadable

INCIDENT: Rafael Markus Bangit, together with his eldest son, Banna Bangit took the GL bus line from Tabuk going Baguio in the afternoon of June 8, 2006. The bus stopped in San Isidro, Echague, Isabela at around 6:00 PM. After Marcos had his dinner and he was on his way going back to the bus with Mrs. Casuga beside him, a hooded man coming from a darke-colored van suddenly appeared and shot Markus Bangit. Mrs Casuga, after noticing what happened to Markus, screamed, and she was also shot by the assailant. Markus was hit in the chest and stomach with four bullets. He was rushed to the Echague District Hospital and died there. Mrs. Gloria Casuga, a principal of Quezon National High School in Isabela, sustained two gunshot wounds and died on the spot. She was another passenger of the bus and not known to Markus Bangit. Markus's son, Banna, was unhurt. The assailant immediately went back to the van and took off. Since the van was parked in a dark area, no one was able to recognize the plate number.

According to the autopsy done by Dr. Chandu Claver , Bangit sustained four bullet wounds, three of which penetrated his thorax (chest and stomach) and exited, while one bullet was left inside his body. The gun used was .45 caliber, and Markus was shot at close range.

Prior to this incident, Markus observed that he was under close surveillance for more than three days by unidentified men while he was in Tabuk with his family.

His body was brought back to his family in Dagupan, Tabuk, Kalinga in the late evening of June 8 from the Echague Municipal hospital.

Prepared by: Joan Carling, CPA, June 9 (based on accounts by Dr. Chandu Claver, initial fact Sheet of KARAPATAN-CV),

'Bayan leader killed for fighting mining'

29th May 2006

Manila Times -

Left-wing group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) on Monday claimed its Southern Tagalog leader Noli Capulong was killed for openly speaking against mining activities in the region.

Arman Abarillo, BAYAN-Southern Tagalog secretary general, denied claims that Capulong was killed by another left-wing activist.

Chief Superintendent Prospero Noble, chief of the Southern Tagalog police office, said Capulong was seen with a Bayan Muna chapter leader before he was ambushed last Saturday.

The two had come from a meeting in Barangay Parian in Calamba, Laguna, which tackled housing for informal settlers, Noble said. The barangay officials refused the interference of the group in the housing issue.

Noble said the Bayan Muna chapter leader insisted the group mediate and was reportedly disappointed with Capulong. After the meeting ended, the chapter leader left first, he added.

Capulong was driving his jeep when gunmen on a motorcycle shot him four times. He died while being treated at the Saint John Hospital in Calamba.

Noble said police is not ruling out other motives behind the killing. “This could be part of a rightist group’s effort to destabilize the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, human rights group KARAPATAN staged demonstrations in front of Camp Aguinaldo on Sunday to condemn Capulong's murder.

Activist organizations claimed that since Mrs. Arroyo became president in 2001, a total of 601 activists have been killed. At least 68 of those slain are women.

Since January this year, activists have recorded 46 political killings in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and Southern Mindanao.

Another activist murdered

The Philippine Star

28th May 2006

Another leader of the militant group Bayan Muna was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding men in Calamba City, Laguna early last night.

Initial reports identified the victim as Noli Capulong, 53, a founding member and regional secretary of Bayan Muna in Southern Tagalog.

The victim was earlier reported to be a younger brother of human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong but this turned out to be false.

Capulong was driving along the Interior Road in Barangay Parian when waylaid by two men who were riding in tandem on a motorcycle at about 6 p.m.

Senior Superintendent Aaron Fidel, Calabarzon chief of intelligence, said Capulong, a resident of Barangay Poblacion in Calamba, was on his way home when he was ambushed. The suspects fled and authorities are still clueless as to the identities of the suspects.

Residents near the site of the ambush rushed Capulong to the St. John Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

Capulong's death is expected to trigger another round of protests from local and international human rights advocates, who are critical of the government's human rights records and its failure to address the spate of killings of progressive and leftist leaders.

Malacañang, however, yesterday disputed reports indicating that the Arroyo administration was fast gaining a notorious reputation for violating human rights and dared critics to prove their claims.

"Anybody or any institution that wishes to look into the human rights situation in the Philippines is welcome to do so. We have nothing to hide and we are proud of our human rights record," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said, stressing that the Arroyo administration lives by the rule of law and democratic processes.

"Every day, we see the dynamism of the democratic system at work in the healthy, even if controversial, interaction among our democratic institutions," Bunye said. "Justice and due process are permanent standards and we have an independent Commission on Human Rights to ensure the full protection of human rights under the Constitution."

Sen. Manuel Villar said data from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) showed that the Arroyo administration had surpassed the combined human rights violations of its three predecessors - the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations. US Ambassador Kristie Kenney had earlier expressed concern over the spate of killings and arrests made recently.

Meanwhile, five women lawyers from the US arrived to assess the human rights situation in the country and to seek help for "persecuted" activists, particularly women.Bunye suggested that, far from fear, there was a climate of confidence and vibrancy in the streets."Filipinos seek the best of life in work and in the freedom to speak, write and travel even if, admittedly, we have to cope with pockets of poverty and deprivation," he said.

"We have a tourist trade that has burgeoned like never before because visitors to the Philippines savor the atmosphere of freedom," he added.

According to Villar, however, the CHR furnished him with documents showing that human rights abuses from 2001 to 2006 were "really very high." He did not provide specific figures to back this claim.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said that based on the CHR report, there had been 1,800 human rights violations under the Arroyo administration and this figure had surpassed the combined number of violations committed under the Aquino, Ramos and Estrada administrations.Villar said the CHR is still compiling reports of human rights abuses during past administrations, adding that a comparison would likely show total abuses have been higher during the current administration.The CHR budget's of P202 million was inadequate, according to Villar, considering what the commission said was "an emerging culture of impunity in the country.

"But that is all we can afford," he said.

The London-based Amnesty International (AI) earlier released a study on 150 countries' human rights records and said the "number of attacks on leftist activists and community workers rose sharply (in the Philippines), with at least 66 fatal shootings reported during 2005."

AI said the attacks on political opponents of the administration are usually carried out by unidentified men, possibly vigilantes of the AFP.

"Most of the attacks were carried out by unidentified assailants on motorcycles, at times wearing face masks, who were often described as 'vigilantes' or hired killers allegedly linked to AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) members," the AI said.

Most of the targets of political killings, it added, were members of legal leftist parties, but also at risk are other human-rights and community activists, priests, church workers and lawyers regarded by authorities as sympathetic to the communist movement.AI scored reports of arbitrary arrests, unlawful killings, torture and "disappearances" in the context of military counterinsurgency.AI said the fruitless investigations into political killings have given the perpetrators the confidence to believe they can get away with murder. It praised the CHR for issuing a statement that held the government accountable for the spate of killings in the country. - With Aurea Calica


17th May 2006


The 94th political activist to die at the hands of GMA's death squads was Jose Doton, Chair of the anti-dam alliance TIMMAWA (Tignay dagiti Mannalon a Mangwayawaya iti Agno or Peasant Movement to Free the Agno), killed between 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on May 16, some two kilometers from his home in the municipality of San Nicolas, on the Agno river's floodplains in Pangasinan. We fear that the next intended victim is his former Council of Elders member, Virgilio Aniceto of Itogon, Benguet.

Like Doton, Aniceto is a leader in a local chapter of the militant KMP (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines). And like many other recent victims of political assassination, Aniceto is a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

In recent weeks, Aniceto has been tailed by three men, one boarding the jeepney with him everytime he heads home, and two following the jeepney on a motorcycle, also of the racer type which Doton's killers rode. In Aniceto's home barrio, Ucab, at least two other men have been asking residents about the pastor's movements, as if trying to establish his routine. But there is no real pattern to Aniceto's movements, and his neighbors have, anyway, refused to answer all questions regarding his comings and goings.

On 10 May, two of the aforementioned men accosted and tried to forcibly restrain a seven-year old girl in Ucab Proper, in order to interrogate her about Aniceto and her father. But the child bit the hand that was tightly gripping her forearm, broke free, and ran to report the incident to her elders. She said the men had shown her a picture of her father and "Uncle Vergel", and that the word "WANTED" had been written under the picture, in marker ink. She also said that this was the third time the men had accosted and unsuccessfully tried to question her on the whereabouts of her father and her uncle. But it was the first time they had tried to restrain her.

The little girl is the daughter of Eduard Fernando Mangili, Secretary-General of APIT TAKO (Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taéng Kordilyera or Alliance of Peasants in the Cordillera Homeland), a regional chapter of the KMP. He is also First Vice-Chair of the multi-sectoral Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA). It will be recalled that his name, along with that of APIT TAKO Chair Julian Gayumba, appeared on a death squad hitlist that the CPA got hold of in February and exposed to the public.

The others identified in the said hitlist are Joan Carling, CPA chairperson; Windel Bolinget, CPA secretary general; Manuel Loste, Bayan Muna-Cordillera Coordinator; Jose Cawiding, Bayan Muna-Cordillera member, and Xavier Akien, secretary general of the Mankayan-Quirino-Tadian-Cervantes Danggayan a Gunglo (MAQUITACDG). The MAQUITACDG is an inter-municipality alliance protesting the mining activities of Lepanto Mining in Mankayan.

Immediately upon learning of the hitlist, the APIT TAKO secretariat made arrangements for Mangili and Gayumba to continue their work in other provinces in the Cordillera, not knowing that the safety of another APIT TAKO leader, Aniceto, also needed to be secured.

Since that time, suspicious-looking characters have been seen prowling around Ucab Proper, a tightly-knit neighborhood where almost all the residents are related to one another either by consanguinity or affinity, and thus a place where strangers and strange doings easily stand out. With Mangili's disappearance from the neighborhood, the strangers seem to have focused on Aniceto.

Aniceto and Mangili both figured prominently in the struggle that the people of Ucab and several other, surrounding communities successfully waged in the early 1990s to defend their ancestral villages against the expansion of open-pit mining within the municipality of Itogon. Both were also among the leaders of the Itogon people's more recent and less successful effort to save their communities' ancestral domains from the impact of the San Roque Dam. Both are now playing key educational roles in the ongoing CPA campaign to prevent the implementation of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's plan to have transnational giants in the mining industry seize control of gold-rich lands throughout the Northern Luzon Cordillera.

Local peasant and labor leaders, and UCCP pastors identified with Bayan Muna, have been the preferred targets of political assassination squads implementing the Arroyo regime's Oplan Bantay Laya (Operational Plan for Guarding Freedom). And these targets' homes and neighborhoods have been their preferred assassination sites.

We know that the killings are aimed at depriving us of leaders - and particularly of spokespeople - valuable to the campaigns we have been waging in advancement of the national and democratic interests of the Filipino people. We know that the strategy of targeting local leaders and situating the killings in or near these leaders' homes is meant to drive fear into the hearts of the communities that are our national democratic movement's mass base.

We are exerting our efforts to deny the assassins their targets. But at the same time, we must persist in our campaigns as we urge you to assist in both. We then call on our friends, partners, associates and peace-loving citizens to denounce the continued surveillance, harassment and threats on the lives of Cordillera activists. Let us resist the worsening political repression in the Philippines. We appeal for support in exerting pressure on the Philippine military and the Arroyo regime to stop political killings and respect human rights.


Lulu Gimenez
APIT TAKO Secretariat Coordinator for Education and Information
Mila Lingbawan Singson
APIT TAKO Human Rights Officer
16 Bukaneg St., Baguio City 2600 Philippines
(+63) (74) 619 0320

CPA condemns killing of Pangasinan peasant leader


18th May 2006

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) strongly condemns the brutal killing of Jose Doton, 62, chairperson of the Tignayan dagiti Mannalon a Mangwayawaya iti Agno (TIMMAWA), and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Pangasinan secretary general, the 94th political activist slain under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime this year. He was gunned down on May 16, 2006 in Brgy. Camangaan, San Nicolas, Pangasinan by 2 motorcycle-riding men. Tatang Jose was also aboard a motorcycle driven by his brother Cancio, 57. Cancio survived the shooting and remains in critical condition in the hospital.

The death of Tatang Jose, including the recent deaths of other political activists such as Bayan Muna Regional Coordinator for Cagayan Valley Elena Mendiola, and Ricardo Balauag of Bayan Muna Isabela, only proves once more the GMA regime's plot to terrorize and destroy the people's movement through its Oplan Bantay Laya. These deaths, which are systematically executed from one region to the next, exposes the desperation of the crumbling GMA government to prevail in power. The heightened, continuing political killings and repression, is occurring fast at a nationwide scale. The Batasan 5, for instance, have again been charged anew with alleged criminal cases.

Tatang Jose was an ordinary peasant from Brgy. Cabaluan in San Nicolas who led and fought for the rights of the people of Pangasinan and Cordillera to his last breathe. Even before becoming the TIMMAWA chairperson, he had been at the forefront of the struggle against the San Roque Dam. At the height of the anti-San Roque Dam struggle, he was already receiving death threats and was being harassed for his active leadership therein. Tatang Jose's leadership significantly raised the issue of the people of Pangasinan against the mega dam and its adverse effects to people's livelihood and resources, even at the international level. The construction of the San Roque Dam displaced 660 families, while more than 10, 000 goldpanners from Pangasinan were economically displaced. In Itogon, Benguet, around 20,000 indigenous peoples are adversely affected by the operation of the dam due to siltation build-up.

After the killing of Tatang Jose, we in the CPA would like to alert the public and the media on the ongoing harassment and surveillance of our colleagues. In recent weeks, APIT TAKO's (Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilerya) Virgilio Aniceto has been followed around by three men, even asking neighbors about his whereabouts in his home barrio in Ucab, Itogon. Aniceto has been a Council of Elders member for the TIMMAWA. Aniceto is also a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

We heighten our call to the public to denounce and resist the political harassment, repression and killings gripping our country. These killings are not a mere attack to the political activists but to the very lives and civil liberties of the Filipino people. As the activist death toll rises, we call on all freedom-loving citizens to join mass actions to protest the killings. These leaders felled or targeted by the assassin's bullet are but ordinary people who are making a difference by fighting for the rights of their fellow exploited countrymen. As we condemn these continuing killings, we also intensify our call for the ouster of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and for the stop to political killings and repression.


Name of Victim: JOSE DOTON, 62 years old, male, married and a native of San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

He is the Secretary-General of the Bayan Muna- Pangasinan chapter and at the same time the president of Tignayan dagiti Mannalon A Mangwayawaya Ti Agno (TIMMAWA).

Place of Incident: Anong Road, Barangay Camanggaan, San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

Date of Incident: May 16, 2006

Perpetrators: unidentified assassins believed to be members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Accounts of the incident:

An eyewitness narrates that at around 10:30 to 10:45 in the morning of May 16, 2006; he saw the Doton brothers (Cancio and Jose) on board a motorcycle. He further narrates that he noticed another motorcycle speeding behind the two and suddenly he heard three gun shots. He stayed among the bushes to see clearly what is going on. There he saw a red motorcycle (Yamaha XRM) with no plate number overtaking the motorcycle of the Doton brothers, shooting two more times. When Jose and Cancio have already fallen on the road, one of the men about 20 to 25 years old alighted from the motorcycle and shot Jose's head then speeds away.

Six empty shells and some bullet heads from a .45 caliber pistol were recovered from the crime scene.

According to the daughter of Jose, the latter's pulse was still there when he saw him lying bloody on the road. His legs were under the motorcycle, his head bore one wound under the right ear and his ear pierced. The exit wound was on the head. Lumps of blood were coming out from the wounds on the chest but she could still feel the heart throbbing. She brought Jose and Cancio a.k.a Dado, her father and uncle respectively, to the hospital. However, when they reached the town proper of San Nicolas her father stopped breathing.

Her uncle Cancio sustained two gunshot wounds. One that pierced a part of his lung rendered him struggling to survive at a family clinic in San Nicolas. His other wound could have been due to a bullet that exited Jose's body while he was riding.

Several days before Jose was murdered, people noticed that motorcycle-riding men used to stay at a two-storey house in the middle of the fields, near the road. They seemed to be waiting for someone because they usually arrived very early and stay there up to the late evening. The two storey house is adjacent to the parcel of rice fields tended by Jose.

Also, Jose's wife narrated that before the incident, strange men had been going around the vicinity of their house selling things like pieces of jewelry, or buying scrap materials. She also noticed that there are those offering to reload butane gas for lighters.

Prepared by:

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