BAGUIO CITY (Oct. 26) — Advocates for the protection of the environment in the country are among those endangered. Records showed that they are among those listed of 860 victims of extra-judicial killings, an international mining peoples’ network revealed recently.
These killings and the harassments of environmental activists in the country has been blamed on transnational mining corporations (TNCs) with the administration of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a conduit by an international group.
There were already 23 environmental activists killed since 2001 while various community leaders have been charged in court for allegedly obstructing operations of TNCs, claimed Mines and Communities (MAC), an international network of individuals and organizations in the different regions of the world which coordinate campaigns against large scale minings by TNCs.
“These infringements on civil liberties and violations of human rights are part of the offensive being waged by mining TNCs and the Philippine government on people who actively oppose the large mining projects of transnational corporations and the National Mining Revitalization Program of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” stated the MAC statement released on October 19 after a conference in London.
MAC disclosed that the latest killed environment activists was identified as Sangguniang Bayan member Armin Marin of Sibuyan, Romblon. He was killed on October 3 when they were having a mass protest against Sibuyan Nickel Property Development Corporation, added MAC which claimed that the said corporation is allegedly a partner of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining transnational.
“At least 18 of them (23 environmental activists) were involved in community movement against large mining,” MAC explained in its statement.
It also cited that four anti-mining activists were killed from 2005 to 2006. The four, which it did not name, were allegedly involved in anti-mining operations of the Poly-metallic Mining Projects of the Australian corporation Lafayette in Rapurapu Island of Sorsogon.
MAC said various community leaders who opposed the entry of large scale mining in their communities had been charged in court.
MAC cited the filing of grave slander, a criminal case, against community leader Josie Guillao of Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya.
Guillao is among those who actively lead the opposition against the mining exploration of the MTL Exploration Company and was arrested on October 18, Nordis learned, but she bailed out on October 19.
Earlier, local officials and leaders in Nueva Vizcaya were charged on July 23 by an Australian company Oxiana-Royalco for alleged obstruction of the company’s operation. The case was dismissed however.
Even advocates for environmental protection are not spared, MAC cited that Frances Quimpo of the Center for Environmental Concerns in the Philippines was charged in court with libel for publishing the effects of mining by the Lafayette Corporation.
Sharing solidarity with the Filipino communities, the participants demand justice on the harassment and extra-judicial killings. They urge the government to cancel the permits and ensure the accountability of mining corporations involved in the said violations.
Foreign corporations are actively involved in mining in the country due to the mining revitalization program of the present administration and a national Mineral Development Council (MDC) was created based on Executive Order No. 460 issued by Pres. GMA in 2005. Regional counterparts of the MDC, including the Cordillera, were already established.
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) has earlier noted foreign corporations with mining applications on 1.2 million hectares of the 1.8 million-hectare total land area of the Cordillera.
From the 21 environment organizations which attended the conference in London, four of them are from the Philippines, among these is the CPA. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS