A leader of small-scale miners opposed to open-pit mine in Pantukan is in critical condition after a gun assault.
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – A woman leader of a small-scale miners group in Compostela Valley province was shot and wounded in an attack yesterday, Jan. 27.
Bebing Navacilla, a leader of the Small-Scale Miners organization (SSM) in Sitio (subvillage) Gumayan, Kingking village, Pantukan town, was in Cadayona zone in the same village, when she was shot at 8 p.m.
The environmentalist group Panalipdan (Defend)-Southern Mindanao Region, in its short post in its Facebook account, linked the assault to suspected soldiers of the 46th Infantry Battalion who are securing the Kingking Copper and Gold project. Navacilla is still in critical condition in a hospital.
Navacilla’s group are among those fiercely resisting the large-scale open-pit mining in Kingking village of the Canadian-owned St. Augustine Copper and Gold Project and its local partner, National Development Corporation (Nadecor).
Panalipdan said that in the afternoon of Jan. 27, Navacilla visited another SSM member, Giovanni Gutierrez at the Philippine National Police municipal office in Pantukan town. Gutierrez, an abantero, or a frontline tunnel digger in small-scale mining, had been tagged as a New People’s Army member and detained on trumped-up charges, Panalipdan said.
Another environmentalist group, the Francis S. Morales Research Center (FSMRC) had warned of the Kingking project’s foreseen adverse impact on the people’s livelihood and health, as well as threats to biodiversity and to the marine and coastal ecosystems.
FSMRC Executive Director Kim Gargar cited a Canadian technical report in 2013, which said the open-pit mining will affect the flora and fauna in the area, specially the “vulnerable or critically endangered” species, which include 12 of the 253 native or endemic plant species, 11 bird, two mammal and five reptile species.
The construction and development of the Kingking project proceeds this year, after the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) approved the permit on Dec. 29 last year.