Group Condemns Attacks vs. Nun, Other Anti-Mining Activists


An environmental group denounced the attacks against four anti-mining advocates, including a Benedictine nun, in Davao Oriental.

Four members of Panalipdan- Davao Oriental were allegedly subjected to illegal search, illegal detention, harassment, intimidation and grave threats by elements of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA).

Sister Stella Matutina, OSB; Wenceslao Mapa, Panalipdan; Gil Sentinales; and, Councilor Ma. Fe Matibo will file complaints against the soldiers.

According to Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao Region, the four were invited by the local government unit in Brgy Taytayan, Cateel, Davao Oriental to hold a forum on environmental protection last Feb. 16.

At around 3 a.m., about 20 elements of the 67th IBPA led by a certain Lt. Ron Soriao forcibly entered the barangay (village) hall where the Panalipdan officers were staying. The victims were held at gunpoint. They were detained inside the barangay hall until later in afternoon.

Francis Morales, spokesperson of Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao said, “We denounce in strongest terms the systematic attempts perpetrated by the state’s armed forces to silence those who are working for the defense of our environmental rights. As the entry of mining and other capitalist investments hasten, the threats against those who oppose capitalist plunder and environmental destruction aggravate.”

Morales deemed that the attacks against environmental activists form part of the Investment Defense Force (IDF)’s systematic attacks against those who oppose the destruction caused by large-scale foreign mining.

The group said that while Cateel is mainly host to massive corporate logging activities, the people fear that the area would be next in line for mining activities. In Boston, a neighboring town, Omega Gold Mining Corporation, one of the Arroyo government’s priority projects, has started exploration activities. Three other towns in Davao Oriental are anticipating the operation of the world’s largest mining company, BHP Billiton in their areas, the group said.

“The trend is that after a massive logging activity in a certain area, mining corporations come in. Logging is like clearing operation for large-scale mining investments,” the group added.

Morales said while justice has remained elusive for their slain colleague Francisco “Dodong” Sarmiento, state-perpetrated threats against those who continue fighting for environmental and social justice are exacerbating.

Sarmiento, chairperson of ACCESS Panalipdan – New Bataan in Compostela Valley, was shot dead by unidentified men Dec. 23, 2008.

“We see no end to the injustice done against those who fight plunderers in this government which has brought economic plunder in this country to its worst state. We deem the army and the Arroyo government accountable not only for the deteriorating plight of human rights but most of all for the betrayal of our patrimony as it continues to serve the interests of the mining capitalists rather than the interest of the people,” Morales said. (

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