An anti-mining activist was killed by unidentified men two days before Christmas, an environmentalist group in Compostela Valely said.
Fernando Sarmiento, 39, secretary general of Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), was killed by still unidentified men, December 23, around 7 p.m. at Purok 1, Barangay Cabinuangan, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province.
Francis Morales, spokesperson of the group, said Sarmiento sustained five gunshot wounds.
Morales said Sarmiento led rural folk of New Bataan in calling for a stop to the operations of PhilCo Mining Corporation, the planned exploration of other mining corporations and the mining-instigated military operations of the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
The group alleged that Sarmiento was killed by the military because of his advocacy.
Morales related that the victim was interrogated on July 16 by elements of 28th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army (IBPA) under the command of Lt. Wendel Ariola. Morales said Sarmiento was accused of being a rebel supporter.
Morales added that on July 22, the said military unit posted on its website a photo of Sarmiento, claiming that the latter was a rebel returnee.
Morales said, “This is a typical mode of operation of the military with the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya 2 in the rural areas of Compostela Valley. Activist leaders are maligned and demonized first before being killed.”
Morales said Sarmiento is the first environmental activist in Southern Mindanao who was killed after the Arroyo administration formed the Investment Defense Force (IDF). He also said that 10th ID Chief Major General Leo Jogy Fojas declared New Bataan as a center of operations of rebels.
According to Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, 24 environmental activists have been killed under the Arroyo administration.
The Panalipdan-SMR said the Arroyo administration and the 10th ID must be held accountable for the killing of Sarmiento. (Bulatlat.com)