Anti-mining activist survives ambush

KATRIBU Indigenous Peoples’ Partylist condemns the ambush of another anti-mining activist and environmentalist in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao.

“We call on indigenous peoples, ancestral land defenders and defenders of the environment to condemn this latest incident and escalating killings of anti-mining activists and indigenous peoples,” the group said.

Yesterday, at around 3:30 in the afternoon, on his way home, unidentified assailants shot at Dr. Isidro Olan. He survived the attempt on his life and is now recuperating at the Madrid Municipal Hospital. He is the Executive Director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation Inc. and a member of CARAGA Watch.

The CARAGA Watch is a multi-sectoral group that calls for a stop of large-scale mining operations, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the immediate stop of military operations in the hinterlands of the region (Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands) which reportedly displaced 335 Mamanwa families or 1,156 individuals early this year.

The attempt on Dr. Olan’s life comes after the massacre of Daguil Capion’s family in Davao del Sur this October 18; the killings of Genesis Ambason and Gilbert Paborada on 2 and 3 October 2012 by unidentified gunmen in Agusan del Sur and Cagayan de Oro, respectively; and on the ambush of Timuay Luceno Manda this 5 September that led to death of his 12-year old son Jordan.

Like Dr. Olan, they are opposed to destructive projects specifically large-scale mining, oil palm plantations, logging, energy projects and other commercial interests in indigenous peoples’ lands.

Indeed the President’s record “speaks for itself” with at least 28 indigenous peoples killed under his administration. Aside from these, indigenous peoples are also slapped with trumped-up criminal charges such as the case of 37 Lumad Manobo leaders and Genasque Enriquez of KATRIBU Partylist and KASALO who are facing rebellion, murder, illegal possession of firearms and explosives, arson and the like.

“We think of no reason behind the killings and attempted killings, and the filing of trumped-up charges against indigenous peoples and their advocates but to scare and terrify them. It is meant to silence the heightening opposition to these projects and break the intensifying ancestral land defense,” Beverly L. Longid, KATRIBU Indigenous Peoples’ Partylist National President and nominee.

Now we ask who is behind these killings. Who else would benefit from the death and incarceration of activists and ancestral land defenders?

Longid said “We hold the Aquino government accountable for the above killings and other human rights violations. He has done or said nothing on these killings. Instead, he continues to defend his counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan that terrorizes indigenous peoples. His collusion with mining, logging, palm oil, energy companies is seen in his directive of creating mining militias and in supporting paramilitary groups to protect these destructive projects.”

However, indigenous peoples shall persevere. We shall not bow down to submission. The killings and other human rights violations you perpetuate against indigenous peoples shall haunt you until justice is served.

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