Photos by JHUN DANTES
Text by RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Human rights advocates and environmentalists condemned the recent murder of two activists in a rally in front of Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), this morning.
On May 6, Frederick Trangria was gunned down by two unidentified riding in tandem at purok 2B Cabidianan, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley. Three days later, on May 9, Margarito Cabal, 47, was shot inside his rented house in purok 4-B Barangay Palma, Kibawe, Bukidnon.
“The extrajudicial killings of environmental activists Fred Trangria and Margarito Cabal prove that AFP’s claim of zero human rights violations in the first four months of 2012 is one fat lie!” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan spokeswoman said. Col. Domingo Tutaan of AFP’s Human Rights Office announced that the AFP has zero human rights violation cases a few days after the killing of Cabal and Trangria.
Palabay noted that the military’s statement came two weeks before the Philippine government goes through the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review under the auspices of United Nations Human Rights Council. “The AFP statement is simply a psy-war addressed to the international community and is meant to prop up its war monger image that could no longer be masked by their deceptive schemes,” Palabay said.
Both victims were vocal against “destructive projects of the government and private companies.”
According to Karapatan, Cabal was known for his firm resistance to the establishment of Hydro-Electric Mega Dam project of First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (FIBECO) that will affect 22 barangays of Bukidnon and North Cotabato.
“Dams are being built to facilitate development but development has been defined from the perspective of foreign investors and the government and it is the Filipino masses who are damned to pay the price,” Piya Macliing Malayao, spokeswoman of Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp), said.
Meanwhile, Trangria, strongly opposed the Mineral Processing Zone. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment described him as a staunch protector of the Mainit National Park’s biodiversity and natural resources from large-scale mining.
“Mainit National Park is home to various flora and fauna, notably including the Philippine civet, the endemic Philippine turtle dove and the endangered Green-winged ground dove. It is also home to the popular Mainit Hot Springs. Trangia sought to protect these natural wonders from the attempted expansion of the Mineral Processing Zone in Mainit,” Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of the Kalikasan-PNE, said.
According to the environmentalist group, Trangia is the 14th environmental activist noted to be killed under the Aquino administration, and 10th in the Mindanao region. “The unabated killings and other human rights violations exacted on ecologists speaks of the Aquino government’s path pursuing dirty and destructive projects paved with the deaths of those in opposition,” Bautista said.
Bautista said Aquino’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan continues to human rights abuses as mining investments and other so-called developmental projects continue to be protected by military and paramilitary forces.