Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Anti-mining activist killed in southern RP

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 24, 2008) – An anti-mining activist accused by the Philippine military as a communist rebel was shot dead by gunmen in Mindanao, south of the country where security forces are battling insurgents.

Fernando Sarmiento, Secretary-General of the anti-mining group called Panalipdan, was killed late Tuesday in the village of Cabinuangan in Compostela Valley’s New Bataas town.

His followers condemned the killing and accused the military as behind the murder.

“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,” said Francis Morales, spokesman for the Panalipdan.

He said Sarmiento, 39, was shot five times.

Soldiers from the 28th Infantry Battalion arrested and interrogated Sarmiento on July 16 after accusing him either as a supporter or a member of the New People’s Army rebels and his being active in anti-mining campaigns in Midnanao, according to Morales.

"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," he said.

Oplan Bantay Laya is the government’s counter-insurgency operations in the Philippines aimed at wiping out the NPA by 2010. The military denied any links in the killing of Sarmiento.

About two dozen environmental activists had been killed in recent years, according to the independent Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: