MAC: Mines and Communities

Philippines update

Published by MAC on 2007-10-04

Philippines update

4th October 2007

Another mining activist killed in the Philippines


4th October 2007

Reference: Clemente Bautista, Jr. Kalikasan-PNE National Coordinator (0922-844-9787)

Nationwide environmental network calls for justice for slain anti-mining advocate


A nationwide environmental network today sounded the alarm over the take-over by the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton, of a nickel project in Sibuyan island, Romblon, where anti-mining advocate Arman R. Marin was shot dead yesterday morning.

"We call for justice for Arman R. Marin and an end to the nickel exploration project in Sibuyan. Marin's killers must be made accountable for this deed. We also demand that the government heed the calls of the Sibuyan peoples for a stop to the Romblon Nickel Project. Will the Arroyo administration wait for even more blood to be shed before it takes action on this issue? " Clemente Bautista, Jr., National Coordinator for Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said in a statement.

Marin, 42 years old and a father of five children, was shot repeatedly yesterday morning by an armed employee of the Sibuyan Nickel Property Development Corp. (SNPDC), a mining firm exploring for nickel in the area. Marin led hundreds of protestors in a picket in front of SNPDC's office itio Olango in Barangay España, San Fernando, Sibuyan Island, when a heated confrontation happened the protestors and mining firm employee Mario Kingo, 40 years old. Marin was shot in the scuffle and died en route to the hospital. Kingo remains at large.

Bautista also expressed alarm over the take-over of Australian-based BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company of the SNPDC nickel laterite project. An agreement was recently signed between BHP Billiton and SNPDC's foreign partner, junior mining firm Pelican Resources to supply 500,000 wet tonnes of product annually for an initial period of five years, with options to extend for a further eight years.SNPDC holds a special permit from the DENR, issued by former Sec. Angelo Reyes.

"BHP Billiton is like Godzilla devouring entire islands of mineral-rich lands. This monster must be stopped ," Bautista said.

"Councilor Arman Marin was the first victim of mining aggression of these large foreign mining firms in Sibuyan. Are we just going to stand by and watch as the number of victims grows? " Bautista said.

"Kalikasan PNE counts at least 23 environmental advocates killed out of the more than 800 cases of extrajudicial killings tallied by human rights watchdog KARAPATAN. Marin is the latest environmental advocate in this litany of killings. Marin is also the 20th environmental advocate to be killed in relation to a mining project since 2001 ," Bautista reiterated.

"Kalikasan PNE is calling for mass actions, sending of protest and condemnation letters to BHP Billiton, the DENR and the Palace, and an international campaign against the plunder of mining TNCs of Philippine national patrimony ," Bautista said.

"In addition to its stake in the Romblon project, BHP Billiton is also eyeing a multi-million dollar nickel project in Pujada Peninsula, Davao Oriental province in partnership with local mining firms Hallmark Mining Corp. and AustraAsia Link Mining Corporation," Bautista noted.

Bautista also called attention to the mining firm's environmental record.

"The Arroyo administration seems to be ignorant of BHP Billiton's environmental record in other countries where it operated. For two decades, BHP Billiton dumped 80,000 tons of rock mine tailings filled with toxic heavy metals such as copper, zinc, cadmium, and lead directly into the Fly and Ok Tedi rivers in Papua New Guinea. This has ruined the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmers, poisoned some 2,000 square kilometers of forests, and contaminated two of Papua New Guinea's largest river systems," Bautista said.

"The people in Sibuyan must not be disheartened nor cowed into silence by Marin's death. Marin's life will not be in vain for as long as the people strive for justice and an end to the mining projects which have brought about so much division and hardship on their community. The fight must go on ," Bautista said.

"Kalikasan PNE will be bringing the killing of Marin and the threat of BHP Billiton's entry to the attention of international fora and its regional network s," Bautista said.

Kalikasan PNE is a Philippine-based network of non-government organizations (NGOs), grassroots organizations, and environmental advocates.

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