Another mother, anti-mining activist killed

DAYS before the international celebration of Human Rights Day, green groups reported that two anti-mining advocates were killed this Friday night by unidientified assailants in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya. Cheryl Ananayo, a member of Didipio Earthsavers’ Multipurpose Association (DESAMA), was shot dead along with her cousin-in-law Randy Nabayay as they were riding to Didipio at 6:00PM last December 7.

DESAMA is a people’s organization opposed to the ongoing implementation of the 17,626-hectare Didipio gold-copper project in Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya owned by Australian large-scale miner OceanaGold Corporation. Nabayay was a small-scale miner who had differences with OceanaGold over his property. Ananayo was with her 4 year-old child and carrying her 3 month-old baby, both unharmed.

“Ananayo, much like Juvy Capion from South Cotabato, is a mother who only wanted a safe future for her children, but in the end was senselessly killed. It seems that the mining regime perpetrated by the Aquino government is not content with the death toll of environmental activists this year, now pegged at 15 cases in 2012 alone. Is this how Aquino wants to celebrate Human Rights Day, with more impunity towards our beleaguered environment defenders?” said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of Task Force-Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED).

Fr. Castor referred to the Tampakan massacre earlier this year, where B’laan mother and anti-mining advocate Juvy Capion was murdered alongside her sons John and Pops. The two mothers and their family now cap the 27 cases of killings of environmentalists recorded under the Aquino government.

According to the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), the Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) of Oceana Gold in Didipio, which commenced only this November of 2012, has already caused ecological destruction and the violation of indigenous peoples’ rights even before its full operations, making the company a possible suspect.

“Oceana Gold’s crimes to the environment and the people started way before its commencement this last November, and it continues to grow. As early as during its mine development stage, it has already caused massive siltation that led to the disappearance of aquatic species in some affected rivers. Its campaign of attrition towards the indigenous people’s communities included threats of bulldozing homes, actual demolition operations, and letting loose gunfire upon civilians. We can think of no other person or institution with a track record and motive,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

“It angers us how not a single case of extrajudicial and politically motivated killing towards environmentalists has ever been resolved since 2001, and still the number has risen with the killing of Ananayo and Nabayay. We call for an immediate independent investigation into the killings, as already the police are initially looking at the angle of a hold-up incident. We cannot allow yet another case of white-washing in the making,” Fr. Castor said.

“We cannot continue turning a blind eye on the killings of environmental advocates. We have seen how destructive large-scale logging and mining activities have resulted in the intensified disaster impacts of hazards such as the most recent Typhoon Pablo that hit Mindanao. If we allow this impunity towards the likes of Ananayo to continue, who will be left to ensure the integrity of the environment that nurtures and protects us?” Bautista said.

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