Mindanao human rights situation worsening, mining seen as culprit

AT today’s ‘salubong’ for 70 farmers and lumad leaders from Mindanao for the “Manilakaayan ng Mindanao: A Journey in Defense of Land, the Environment, and Human Rights,” party list Rep. Teddy Casiño challenged the Aquino administration to immediately act on the worsening human rights situation in Mindanao.

Since Pres. Aquino assumed power in 2010, human rights groups have documented 32 extrajudicial killings in the island, of which 24 are indigenous Lumad leaders resisting the entry of mining companies in their areas. The most recent incident was the murder of pregnant Blaan woman Juvy Capion and her two sons by the Philippine Army in what is now known as the Tampakan Massacre.

“I just hope the President and his people don’t dismiss this again as mere propaganda like they did in New Zealand a few weeks back,” the solon said.

Many other political killings have remained unsolved and the alleged perpetrators whether military men, police, intelligence or paramilitaries backed by government remain unprosecuted. These include the cases of Italian missionary Fr. Pops Tentorio, Higaonon leaders Jimmy Liguyon and Gilbert Paborada, Manobo leader Jenesis Ambason, small-scale mining leader Santos Manrique, Bagobo leader Rudy Dejos and his son Roderick.

“It’s been more than two years but the Aquino government has miserably failed to go after military and civilian officials involved in human rights violations during Arroyo’s time. The climate of impunity has continued because human rights violators continue to be rewarded,” he said.

Casiño cited the recent promotion of Brig. Gen. Eduardo M. Año, the new chief of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) despite a pending case filed by the mother of missing farmer-activist Jonas Burgos against him.

“The lives of Mindanaoans are being treated as mere collateral damage for gold, plantations, mega dams, coal-fired plants, and other extractive industries which the Aquino administration itself is sponsoring. What is more frightening though is that the way things are going human rights violations under this administration might rival that of the Arroyo government,” he warned.

“Malapit na ang International Human Rights Day at sana ay magkaroon na ng katarungan ang napakahabang listahan ng mga biktima, sana man lang ay mahuli na ang mga maysala sa mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao,”  Casiño said.

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