Groups seek government action on Cagayan anti-mining activist killings
MANILA, Philippines - Environmental and human rights group, Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), seeks government help to fast track investigation in the series of killings and violence that targeted anti-mining leaders in Buguey, Cagayan and calls for a stricter implementation of peace and order measures in the province.
"We have already recorded five deaths of anti-mining activists within the span of six months since November last year," said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garaganera.
"Recently, we [ATM] received report that San Lorenzo barangay liason officer Adamson Arellano was rushed to the Lyceum Hope Hospital in Aparri on May 17 after being shot in the leg and foot by unidentified men while riding his motorcycle in a national hi-way in barangay Villagracia," said Garganera.
"Arellano is lucky to have escaped death. But it is not the same for the five anti-mining activists who have already died from the brutal killings while their respective families have yet to claim justice," said Garganera.
"Mining in Cagayan is a hot political issue. The recent election in Cagayan has been the battleground between the pro- and anti-mining candidates. Right now we fear for the lives of other anti-mining local officials and activists, who remain strong on their position against mining operations in the province specially in Buguey," added Garganera.
"We seek for government's action to fast track investigations of the recent shooting of Adamson Arellano and killings of William Arzadon, Conrado Buenaflor, Gensun Agustin, Pedrito Tabaco and Alfredo Rabit. We also ask government law enforcement authorities to implement stricter measures to keep the peace and order in the Cagayan, specially in Buguey," said Garganera.
Recently, Fula barangay captain William Arzadon died on the spot when he received multiple gunshots from unidentified men while riding his motorcycle on his way home in Buguey on May 15.
Conrado Buenaflor, member of the Citizen Action Unit (CAU) and head of Task Force Lapu-Lapu, which monitors shoreline mining and illegal fishing activities under the leadership of Taruc, was shot by an unidentified gunman in front of his own residence in Barangay Leron on May 9. Buenaflor passed away on May 13, after days of struggle for his life in a hospital in Tuguegarao.
Gensun Agustin, one of the leaders of the anti-mining civil society group Alliance of Buguey Community Development Advocates (Albucoda) and member of the Federation of Anti-Mining Advocates in Cagayan (Famac) was gunned down by unidentified men last March 1 while on his way home after delivering a lecture on mining impacts in Buguey.
Anti-mining advocates Pedrito Tabaco and his brother-in-law Alfredo Rabit were gunned down by unidentified men while riding together in a motorcycle on their way home in Barangay Leron Buguey on November 30 last year.
"Arellano, Arzadon, Buenaflor, Agustin, Tabaco and Rabit were all known strong supporters of staunch anti-mining Buguey mayor Ignacio Taruc who recently ran against the son of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and another contender for the House Representative seat in Cagayan first district," said Garganera.
Taruc garnered 40.42 percent of the total votes in the Congressional race, which was by won Juan Ponce C. Enrile Jr. with 56.23 percent votes according to the Commission on Election (Comelec) results.
Buguey is rich in black sand (magnetite) eyed by mining companies. Its wetlands have been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA), significant in staging and wintering area for migratory waterbirds but the site has no official protected status yet.
ATM is an advocacy group and people's movement composed of more than eighty (80) organizations from mining-affected communities and civil society organizations nationwide convened by HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC/FOEI) and Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA). (30)