MAC: Mines and Communities

Kalikasan-PNE pays tribute to slain colleagues - No justice in sight for 18 environmental activists

Published by MAC on 2006-10-31
Source: Kalikasan-PNE ()

Kalikasan-PNE pays tribute to slain colleagues - No justice in sight for 18 environmental activists killed under Arroyo administration

Kalikasan-PNE Press Release

31st October 2006

Justice has yet to be given to at least eighteen environmental activists killed under the Arroyo administration, from January 2001 to September 2006, Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) noted today. The group staged a protest action condemning the executions of fellow environmental advocates as a prelude to All Souls Day, holding a short program this morning at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani monument in Quezon City.

Clemente Bautista, Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator, said that the group monitored at least eighteen (18) cases of extrajudicial killings, one (1) case of attempted murder, and one (1) case of abduction among their colleagues nationwide. The most number of killings were reported in the Southern Tagalog region (5).

"Many of the victims were active leaders of grassroots campaigns against large dam, commercial logging, and large-scale mining operations in their respective communities. They were very vocal in their opposition to particular environmental laws, such as the Mining Act of 1995s. Most of the slain environmental workers were also indigenous people or peasant leaders by sectoral affiliation," Bautista said.

"Our colleagues may hail from different provinces, from Baguio City to Sultan Kudarat, but they were all commonly active in opposing the environmental destruction and economic plunder brought about by the entry of foreign transnational corporations aided and abetted by the Arroyo administration," Bautista said.

The 18 environmental activists include the following:

Nicanor delos Santos, a Dumagat tribe leader and Secretary-General of Makbayan Samahan ng Katutubong Dumagat (MASKADA), an indigenous people's organization which protested against the Laiban Dam project. Delos Santos was killed by suspected elements of the Task Force Panther, 2nd Division of the Philippine Army led by Ccl. Laureano Tolentino on December 8, 2001.

Rogelio Lagaro, a member of the Labugal tribal association and an active campaigner against the operations of mining corporation Tampacan Mineral Resources, Inc. Lagaro was killed in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on June 1, 2006 by suspected elements of the 25th IBPA.

Jose Doton, Chairperson of the Tignayan dagiti Mannalon a Mangwayawaya iti Agno (TIMMAWA), a local network actively opposing the controversial San Roque Multi-Purpose Dam (SRMD) project. Doton was killed in San Nicholas, Pangasinan by unidentieif gunmen.

Noli Capulong, Spokesperson for the Southern Tagalog Environmental Action Movement (STEAM) and Bayan Muna deputy regional coordinator for Southern Tagalog, was killed by unidentified gunmen in Calamba, Laguna on May 27, 2006.

Manuela and Expedito Albarillo, Roger Fernando, Erwin Bacarra, and Ramon Ternida of Mindoro Oriental, all killed between 2001-2002, coinciding with Gen. Jovito Palparan's assignment to the region. The four were local community leaders and anti-mining activists who successfully opposed the operations of Mindex Crew Minerals in the province.

Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA) leaders and anti-mining activists Joel Pelayo and Rodel Abraham, killed in Balanga, Bataan on February 19, 2005. The two were also active opposers to the operations of Dizon Mining Corporation.

Save the Abra River Movement (STSRM) and Makabayang Samahan para sa Kalikasan at Bayan (MASAKBAYAN) leader Romy Sanchez, killed in Bauio City on March 9, 2005. Sanchez campaigned against large-scale mining in the Ilocos and Cordillera regions by the Lepanto Mining Corporation.

Rev. Raul Domingo, environmentalist and clergy from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, killed in Puerto Princesa, Palawan on August 20, 2005. Domingo was an active critic of Ric Tuba Mining Corporation.

Rogelio Lagaro of the Labugal Tribal Association, killed in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat on June 1, 2006 by suspected elements of the 25th IB Philippine Army. Lagaro's association opposed the operations of Tampacan Mineral Resources' Inc.

Quezon National High School faculty member and Mirant coal power plant critic Napoleon Pornasdoro, killed in Lucena City, Quezon, on February 27, 2006.

Cordillera Peoples' Alliance Elders Desk Coordinator and anti-mining activist Marcus Bangit , killed in San Isidro Echague, Isabela on June 8, 2006.

Defend Our Patrimony-Negros Vice-Chairman Eladio Dasi-an, killed in Guihuingan, Negros Oriental on June 20, 2006.

Peasant leader and anti-large dam advocate Victor Olayvar, killed by suspected military elements in Danao, Bohol last September 7, 2006)

Bautista said that military personnel or state-sponsored assassins are generally believed to be behind the extra-judicial killings of environmental workers. "These brutal assassinations of environmental workers all occurred amidst intensified military surveillance, red-baiting, and political harassment in their respective communities. Environmental activists who oppose the Arroyo administration's destructive and exploitative 'development projects' in their provinces are conveniently branded as 'communists' and 'terrorists' by the AFP and villified. Many, such as Victor Olayvar, have been harassed by suspected military surveillance agents prior to their deaths," Bautista said.

Despite their efforts to seek justice for their colleagues, Bautista expressed disappointment at the pace at which government probes have been going. "The investigations into their deaths have slowed to a standstill. The Task Force Usig created by the Philippine National Police and the Melo Commission created by the Palace have yet to solve a single case involving slain environmental workers," Bautista said.

Bautista said that Kalikasan-PNE would be bringing the issue of slain Philippine environmental workers and advocates to the international community if the Philippine government continues to ignore the rising trend of killings. He also revealed that Kalikasan-PNE was also contemplating bringing the cases involving their slain colleagues to the attention of United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) mandate-holders, particularly the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions and the Special Rapporteur on the Situation on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples.

-- CLEMENTE BAUTISTA national coordinator Kalikasan-People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City, Philippines 1100 Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099 Email: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com, kpne@edsamail.com.ph, royalroi@yahoo.com

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