Two activists killed for opposing mining and banana plantations

Source: 
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME - http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-126-2014
Date of publication: 
8 September, 2014

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-126-2014

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PHILIPPINES: Two activists killed for opposing mining and banana plantations

ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings; Human rights defenders
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you about the killing of two activists in separate incidents in Davao province. The victims had been involved in campaigning against the impact of a coal-powered plant, a mining operation and banana plantations in their community. Prior to their killing, the military had accused them of being supporters of a rebel group, the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN) and Citizens Alliance Unified for Sectoral Empowerment – Davao del Sur (CAUSE)))

CASE 1: Activist opposing mining operation killed in front of his wife

On 7 May 2014, at 7pm Ernel Wata Taduyan (35) was shot in the feet in their residence at Kibalatong village, Davao del Sur. He asked his wife Rubelinda for help telling her “Lyn gipusil ko” (Lyn I was shot). She saw the shooting. According to Rubelinda the perpetrators were six armed men allegedly from elements of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army under Lt. Col. Patricio Amata.

Ernel was inside his house when he was shot. His wife begged the soldiers not to kill her husband. She could not see their faces clearly because it was dark due to a power interruption.

Ernel implored his wife to take care of their three children before going into the children’s room. He sustained wounds in different parts of his body that caused his death. Investigators recovered 43 empty M16 shells. After the incident, Ernel’s family worried and feared for their lives, yet his wife still wants to continue advocacy for her husband.

According to neighbours and relatives, men in motorcycles were seldom seen in the community. However, there were some persons pretending to buy goods in the local stores while inquiring about Rubelinda’s whereabouts. Ernel’s relatives were also harassed after his death. They were told that they would be killed next.

After Ernel was buried, suspected intelligence agents and elements of 73rd IBPA were continuously looking for Rubelinda and her family to “negotiate.” On May 8, 2014, Rubelinda had accused them publicly, thru TV Patrol Mindanao, as perpetrators of her husband’s death.

The commanding officer of 73rd IBPA denied the incident and said that they only conducted Oplan Bayanihan, an anti-insurgency program of the government, on the basis of respect for human rights.

According to Rubelinda, in April 2014, she and Ernel were accused of being supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA). They were warned by three military of the 73rd IBPA and told to stop supporting the rebels. If they did not comply, they would be listed in the “Order of the Battle”, list of individuals by the security forces usually targeted for extrajudicial killings. Rubelinda denied the accusation.

Rubelinda believes they were targeted and harassed to stop them from participating in the campaign against the Anti-Coal Fired Power Plant (CFPP) and mining in Malita.

The couple are members of Church People’s Advocacy for the Integrity of God’s Creation-Malita Chapter (CPAIGC-Malita Chapter). This is a network of CAUSE-DS, active on environmental issues like CFPP and mining that are destructive to the ancestral lands and environment of the indigenous people like the Taga-Kaulo tribes.

The network continues facilitating discussions in the village regarding the imminent environmental threat from CFPP of the San Miguel Corporation. This business is owned by Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco who has started construction work in Barangay Colaman, Malita, Davao del Sur even though there is remaining opposition.

In one of his business conferences, President Aquino promised the corporations that they can operate without impediment. And the government will pay any operational losses. It has 26 on-going mining applications in Malita, Don Marcelino and Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur.

In 2011, there were three documented extrajudicial killings in Malita: Tano Palacay, Zaldy Calibay and Dioquino Squadro all perpetrated by elements of the 39th and 73rd IBPA.

CASE 2: An indigenous man shot dead for opposing incursion of a banana plantation on his ancestral lands.

On the evening of 20 May 2014, neighbors noticed suspicious-looking people roaming around and looking at the residence of Tony Bago and his family at Sitio Kibarot, Lagumit village, Malita, Davao Occidental.

The next day at 9am, Jun-jun Bago, nephew of Tony Bago said that two men in a motorcycle went to Tony’s house. Tony and his nephew were going to buy fish when the two men stopped them. The men were wearing balaclavas and riding a yellow XR Honda motorcycle without any license plates.

According to Jun-jun, his uncle assumed that the two men wanted to buy fish. The men stopped and asked Tony if he knew the person in the photo. The men also asked him if he knew Tony Bago. He answered I am sir (Ako Sir). Right after he answered the man took his gun out and shot Tony in the neck and his right arm.

Tony shouted at his nephew to run while the two perpetrators rode off in the direction of Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental. According to the police investigation a .45 caliber gun was used in the shooting.

Tony Bago actively struggled to defend his ancestral lands and strongly opposed the entry of the banana plantation of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. Overall, about 300 hectares of ancestral lands will be affected by the large-scale mining in Malita and the neighboring municipalities.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions for immediate intervention.

To support this appeal, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-126-2014

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ………………,

PHILIPPINES: Two activists killed for opposing mining and banana plantations

CASE 1
Name of killed victim: Ernel Wata Taduyan, 35 years old. A resident of Kiblatong village, Davao del Sur. He is a member of Church People’s Advocacy for the Integrity of God’s Creation-Malita Chapter (CPAIGC-Malita Chapter),
Alleged Perpetrators: 6 armed men from elements of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army under Lt. Col. Patricio Amata.
Date of incident: 7 May 2014 at 7pm
Place of incident: At residence of the victim in Kibalatong village, Davao del Sur.

CASE 2
Name of killed victim: Tony Bago, a resident Sitio Kibarot, Lagumit village, Malita, Davao Occidental. He was a fish vendor and an indigenous person who has opposed the incursion of banana plantations.
Alleged Perpetrators: Two unidentified men in ski masks in a yellow XR Honda motorcycle without license plates.
Date of incident: 20 May 2014
Place of incident: At Sitio Kibarot, Lagumit village, Malita, Davao Occidental

I am writing to raise my grave concern about the killing of Ernel Taduyan, an anti-mining activist and Tony Bago, an indigenous person who has opposed the incursion of banana plantations in their community.

On 7 May 2014, at 7pm Ernel Wata Taduyan (35), was shot in the feet in his home at Kibalatong village, Davao del Sur. He called Rubelinda, his wife, for help and told her “Lyn gipusil ko” (Lyn I was shot). She saw the shooting. According to Rubelinda the perpetrators were six armed men allegedly from elements of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army under Lt. Col. Patricio Amata.

Ernel was inside his home when he was shot. His wife begged the perpetrators not to kill her husband. She could not see their faces clearly because it was dark due to a power interruption.

Ernel implored his wife to take care of their three children before going inside the children’s room. He sustained shots in different parts of his body that caused his death. The investigators recovered 43 empty M16 calibre shells. After the incident, Ernel’s family worried and feared for their lives, but his wife still wants to continue advocacy for her husband.

According to neighbours and relatives, men in motorcycles were seldom seen in their community. But, some persons pretending to buy goods in the local stores began inquiring about Rubelinda’s whereabouts. Ernel’s relatives were also harassed after his death. They were told that they would be killed next.

After Ernel was buried, suspected intelligence agents and elements of the 73rd IBPA were continuously searching for Rubelinda and her family to “negotiate.” On May 8, 2014, Rubelinda had accused them publicly thru TV Patrol Mindanao as perpetrators of her husband’s death.

The commanding officer of the 73rd IBPA denied the incident and said that they conducted Oplan Bayanihan, an anti-insurgency programme of the government, on the basis of respect for human rights.

According to Rubelinda, in April 2014, she and Ernel were accused of being supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA). They were warned by three soldiers of the 73rd IBPA to stop supporting the rebels. If they did not comply they will be listed in the “Order of Battle,” list of individuals by the security forces usually targeted for extrajudicial killings, Rubelinda denied the accusation.

Rubelinda believes they were targeted and harassed to stop them from participating in the campaign against the Anti-Coal Fired Power Plant (CFPP) and mining in Malita.

The couple are members of Church People’s Advocacy for the Integrity of God’s Creation-Malita Chapter (CPAIGC-Malita Chapter), a network of CAUSE-DS. They are active on environmental issues like CFPP and mining that are destructive to the ancestral lands and environment of the indigenous people like the Taga-Kaulo tribes.

The network continues facilitating discussion in the village regarding the imminent environmental threat from CFPP of the San Miguel Corporation. It is owned by Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco who has started construction work in Barangay Colaman, Malita, Davao del Sur, despite continuing opposition.

In one of his business conferences, President Aquino promised the corporations that they can operate without impediment. And the government will pay any operational losses. There are 26 on-going mining applications in Malita, Don Marcelino and Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur.

In 2011, there were three documented extrajudicial killings in Malita: Tano Palacay, Zaldy Calibay and Dioquino Squadro all perpetrated by elements of the 39th and 73rd IBPA.

On the evening of 20 May 2014, neighbors noticed suspicious-looking people roaming around and looking at the residence of Tony Bago and his family at Sitio Kibarot, Lagumit village, Malita, Davao Occidental.

At 9am the next day, Jun-jun Bago, nephew of Tony Bago said that two men in a motorcycle went to Tony’s house. Tony and his nephew were on their way to buy fish when the two men stopped them. The men were wearing balaclavas and riding a yellow XR Honda motorcycle without license plates.

According to Jun-jun, his uncle assumed that the two men wanted to buy fish. The men stopped and asked Tony if he knew the person in the photo and if he knew Tony Bago. He answered I am sir (Ako Sir). Right after he answered the man took out his gun and shot Tony in his neck and his right arm.

Tony shouted at his nephew to run while the two perpetrators rode away towards the municipality of Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental. According to the police investigation a .45 calibre gun was used in the shooting.

Tony Bago actively struggled to defend his ancestral lands and strongly opposed the entry of the banana plantation of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco. About 300 hectares of ancestral lands will be affected by the large-scale mining in Malita and the neighboring municipalities.

I urge you to ensure that these two incidents are properly investigated and that those involved are held responsible as soon as possible.

The witnesses and families of the murdered victims need to be given adequate protection promptly should they decide to prosecute the case. Those who are facing threats should be afforded adequate protection and the identities of those involved in making threats must be ascertained.

I trust that you will take appropriate action in these cases.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr [at] gmail [dot] com

3. Police Director Alan LM Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax +632 7248763
Email: feedback [at] pnp [dot] gov [dot] ph

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj [at] doj [dot] gov [dot] ph

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua [at] ahrc [dot] asia)