MAC: Mines and Communities

Another assassination in the Philippines

Published by MAC on 2008-12-30

Yet another activist against largescale mining has been assassinated in the Philippines, bringing to two dozen the number of leaders allegedly murdered for speaking out against the industry since the Arroyo administration took power.

Fernando Sarmiento, who led the Southern Mindanao-based organisation Panalipdan-SMR, had been putting out strong statements, including ones condemning Crew Gold/Apex's operations, mining militarisation in the Compostella Valley and Davao Oriental, and UK-Switzerland Xstrata's forays at Tampakan.

Panalipdan-SMR believes that those responsible for the murder belonged to the Philippines

Anti-Mining Activist Gunned Down in ComVal

Pinoy Press

24th December 2008

An anti-large scale mining activist was killed by unidentified men yesterday, 23 December 2008, at New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province, environmental activist group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) today reported.

At around 7:00 in the evening, unidentified men brutally killed 39-year old environmental activist leader Fernando "Dodong" Sarmiento, Secretary General of Panalipdan-New Bataan, at Purok 1, Barangay Cabinuangan, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province, said Panalipdan-SMR spokesperson Francis Morales, citing reports from the field.

"Dodong Sarmiento sustained 5 gun-shot wounds that resulted to his death", Morales said.

"We condemn in the strongest term the brutal killing of Dodong Sarmiento, who is known for leading the rural folks of New Bataan in calling for the stoppage of the operations of PhilCo Mining Corporation, the planned exploration of other mining corporations and mining-instigated militarization under the command of 10th Infantry Division, citing as reasons for their resistance on the destruction that large-scale mining operations brought on people's livelihoods and local ecosystems", Morales stressed.

"The environmental group believes that Sarmiento was killed by military elements due to his advocacies. Last 16 July 2008, Sarmiento was interrogated by the elements of 28th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army (IBPA) under Lt. Wendel Ariola for his active involvement in environmental campaigns and was accused as rebel supporter. Then on 22 July 2008, the military posted on its website falsely claiming that Sarmiento was a rebel surrenderee", Morales divulged.

"This is a typical mode of operation of the military in implementing the Oplan Bantay Laya 2 in the rural areas of Compostela Valley wherein activist leaders were maligned and demonized first before being killed", Morales furthered.

The Panalipdan-SMR leader said that Sarmiento is the first environmental activist in Southern Mindanao killed after the Arroyo administration formed the Investment Defense Force (IDF) and when the 10th ID chief Major General Leo Jogy Fojas declared that New Bataan is the rebel's center operations which is actually meant to wipe-out all types of opposition against mining aggression.

Under the Arroyo regime, 24 environmental activists have been killed which indicate the rise on human rights violations in relation to opposition to mining projects, based on the documentation of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment.

The Arroyo administration and the 10th ID should be held accountable the killing of Sarmiento. This is an administration which aggressively promotes plunder of mineral resources and sell-out of our national patrimony to foreign firms at the expense of people's welfare and fragile ecosystems, Morales said.

Anti-mining activist shot dead in Compostela



23rd December 2008

MANILA, Philippines - An anti-mining activist was shot dead Tuesday evening by still unidentified perpetrators in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

The victim was identified as Fernando "Dodong" Bestudio Sarmiento, 39, secretary general of Pinalipdan-southern Mindanao Region.

A check with the New Bataan police revealed that he was shot at close range at about 7 p.m. inside his beauty parlor in Purok 1 baranggay Poblacion of New Bataan.

Police said that two unidentified gunmen riding in tandem on Honda XR motorcycle entered the salon and then pumped four bullets into the victim.

The victim died instantly, police said.

Recovered from the scene were three empty shells of .45 caliber pistol and a slug from a still undetermined firearm.

The cellular phone of Sarmiento was also recovered from the scene and placed under the custody of the police.

Police said they were checking messages on the phone.

A cursory check on the Web revealed that a certain Fernando "Dodong" Bestudio was one of the seven "communist terrorists" who "voluntarily surrendered" to the Army's 28th Infantry Battalion troops in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

The Army statement was dated July 21, 2008.

It was not clear if he was the same "Dodong" who was killed Tuesday night.- Aie Balagtas

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