Green Groups Condemn Killing of Anti-Mining Advocate in Romblon

The killing of Arman Marin by an employee of the Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation, said the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE), is the latest in a series of deaths related to the Arroyo administration’s mining projects. Kalikasan PNE identified 17 killings, including that of Marin, as occurring in relation to the people’s opposition to mining projects

BY LISA ITO
Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 35, October 7-13,2007

Environmental advocates and Church groups raised concerns over the killings of anti-mining advocates under the Arroyo administration after another one was shot dead in Romblon last week.

Arman R. Marin, 42 years old and a father of five children, was killed in Sibuyan, Romblon last Wednesday, October 3 while leading hundreds of protestors in a picket in Sitio Olango in Barangay España, San Fernando, Sibuyan.

The prime suspect in Marin’s fatal shooting is an employee of the Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corp. (SNDPC), a mining firm exploring for nickel in the area.

According to Sibuyan Aton Manggad (SAM) Coordinator Rodne Galicha, a heated confrontation occurred between the protestors and SNDPC employee Mario Kingo, 40, and SNDPC information officer Lea Ladica, who were both reportedly armed with guns at that time. Picketers witnessed how Marin was shot in the head. He died en route to the hospital.

Kingo turned himself in to police authorities last Thursday. SNDPC officials continue to deny responsibility for Marin’s death.

“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.,” Clemente Bautista, Jr., National Coordinator for Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), said in a statement.

Mining-related killings

Marin’s killing, Kalikasan PNE notes, is the latest in a series of deaths related to the Arroyo administration’s mining projects.

Human rights watchdog Karapatan has documented at least 886 extrajudicial killings since 2001 when the Arroyo administration took over. A total of 23 environmental activists have been killed, 2 have been abducted, and one survived a murder attempt, said Bautista.

Of this number, Kalikasan PNE identified 17 killings, including that of Marin, as occurring in relation to the people’s opposition to mining projects in their respective areas, Bautista stressed.

“Majority of the human rights violations against environmental advocates are related to mining projects which the Arroyo administration is aggressively promoting,” Bautista said.

Among these, he said, are the killings of human rights lawyer Gil Gujol and Rei Mon Guran, Spokesperson of the League of Filipino Students chapter in Bicol, in Sorsogon on December 12 and July 31 2006, respectively.

In addition to their active involvement in other people’s issues, both victims were active in the campaign against the government’s flagship mining project of Australian-owned Lafayette Mining in Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay, Bautista said.

Accountability for mining deaths

Environmental advocates and Church groups called for a review of the country’s mining policies in light of the killings.

“The killings and human rights violations are sure to continue and would even become worse for as long as the Arroyo administration pursues the path of mining liberalization and upholds the interests of foreign mining TNCs over that of the Filipino people, the environment, and patrimony,” said Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson for Defend Patrimony, a broad alliance lobbying against mining liberalization in the Philippines and advocating for a genuine people’s mining policy.

“The killing of Marin and other anti-mining advocates can not be simply shrugged off as the lone handiwork of a single criminal,” Concepcion added.

“Accountability for the killings does not stop with the assassins who pulled the trigger. Public officials and private interests who have been pushing for the project to continue despite clear opposition from the community should also be held responsible,” Concepcion explained.

The Promotion of People’s Church Response (PCPR) also called for a review of the country’s mining laws in the light of the killings.

“The brutal killing of Armin and many others and the experiences of mining-affected communities should remind the Supreme Court justices and all lawmakers that the Mining Act of 1995 is clearly immoral, unconstitutional and spells deadly consequences for Filipinos who wish to defend the country’s patrimony from all-out plunder and destruction,” the PCPR said in a statement.

“Large-scale mining is an anathema to [the] commitment to justice, peace, and integrity of creation ,” a statement from the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) said.

Other mining-affected communities appealed for unity among Filipinos against foreign TNC mining. A statement from the Save Rapu-Rapu Alliance (SARA) said, “It is unfortunate that we Filipinos are pitted against each other as greedy foreign mining companies amass great wealth and destroy our patrimony”.

“We appeal to the patriotism of fellow Filipinos that we may stand together in defending our natural resources to which we are all entitled for sustenance and survival,” it continued.

SARA is a local alliance of Bicol residents calling for the closure of Australian-owned Lafayette Mining in Rapu-Rapu island, Albay. (Bulatlat.com)

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