Green groups condemn attempted assassination of anti-mining leader

THE rights group Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED) strongly condemned the attempted assassination of anti-mining leader Timuay Lucenio Manda Umbang and the killing of his 11-year old son John Manda Umbang. Timuay Manda is the tribal chieftain of Subanens in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur who is opposing the operation and expansion of large-scale mining corporations in the province.

Timuay Manda and his son were ambushed this morning in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur. The province is a known hotbed for mining conflicts. Several large-scale mining corporations have interest and operations in the area such as by Greater Asia, 168 Ferrum, Bayug 9 Metal, TVI Resource Development (TVIRD), and one Cherril Astorga. In a statement, TVIRD said that they have exclusive mining rights to 4,779 hectares in one town of Zamboanga del Sur alone. TVIRD has also a large-scale mining operation in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

“The attempted assassination of Timuay Manda is the latest of many human rights violations related to the struggle against foreign and large-scale mining in Zamboanga peninsula. This shows that impunity continues and there is a clear and present danger that anti-mining leaders and activists are facing,” said Leon Dulce, spokesperson of Kalikasan Partylist and convener of TF-JED.

TF-JED has monitored that already eighteen (18) environmental activists which 13 were anti-mining activists were already killed under the Aquino administration. The group also noted that most of the suspects in killing ant-mining activists are members of the military, paramilitary or security forces of mining companies.

“President Aquino’s failure to stop the persecution and killings of environmental activists in the country shows its inutility if not its tolerance of human rights violations perpetuated against indigenous people and ant-mining activists. In Zamboanga peninsula alone a lot of mining-related killings and human rights violations remain unsolved,” Dulce added.

Only last July, a TVIRD armed employee was involved in shooting small scale miners in Zamboanga del Sur as reported by local police. In February, Special Citizens Active Auxiliaries (SCAA) of TVIRD harassed 11 Pagadian-based journalists. In March 2011, a security guard of TVIRD killed a farmer who is protesting against their operation.

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