Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Groups denounce killings of environmental activists in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The Alyansa Tigil Mina, an advocacy group on environmental and human rights issues and people’s movement in the Philippines denounced the killings of environmental activists Gensun Agustin in Buguey town in Cagayan province and Ricardo Ganad in Victoria town in Oriental Mindoro province.

It said Agustin was killed on March 1 and Ganad was slain on February 10 this year.

“ATM denounces the brutal killings of environmental activists Gensun Agustin in Buguey, Cagayan and Ricardo Ganad in Victoria, Oriental Mindoro. The death of the two staunch anti-mining leaders happened in less than a month apart and both murders cannot discount their strong opposition to mining and political affiliations to anti-mining local officials as the possible angles of motives to their gruesome deaths during this election period,” said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.

“It is alarming that despite the supposedly implementation of a ‘stricter measure’ on the nationwide gun ban by Government, the shooting of Agustin and Ganad, which caused the death of two environmental activists, happened in broad daylight.”

“We ask the government law enforcement agencies, specially the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel to fast track the investigations in these incidents to help the victims of the brutal killings achieve justice the soonest and diligently take extra precautions in keeping the peace and order in areas with mining controversies,” Garganera said.

He said the presence of big mining companies in different areas across the nation created social divides among the pros and anti-mining groups.

The election period highlights mining as a hot political issue in different localities because of the believed big money involved that creates bigger social tension among groups, he said.

"Mining companies are inclined to support candidates that will most likely grant them with the ‘social license’ they need to smoothly operate in this country.”

“We, in ATM, would like send our deepest condolences to the families, loved ones and friends survived by the passing of the anti-mining heroes Gensun Agustin and Ricardo Ganad. We would also like to commend the unwavering efforts and bravery of other environmental activists whose strong opposition to mining have prevailed over the years, which money cannot buy,” Garganera said.

ATM is convened by HARIBON, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Friends of the Earth Philippines and Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas. It is composed of more than 80 organizations from mining-affected communities and civil society organizations nationwide.

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