The youth group Anakbayan today decried the growing number of murdered indigenous peoples resisting destructive mining operations, with the latest being last Thursday’s ‘South Cotabato Massacre’.
“There can be no denying it this time: the military, as the Aquino regime’s appointed bodyguard for foreign mining firms, has the blood of innocents on their barbaric hands” said Vencer Crisostomo, national chairperson of Anakbayan.
Last October 18, B’laan tribe leader Daguil Capion’s pregnant wife and two of their children, aged 13 and 8, were killed in a military raid in South Cotobato. The four were resting in a hut when the military opened fire.
Capion, along with his tribe, oppose the entry of foreign firms Xstrata Plc and Indophil Resources into their ancestral lands.
Earlier, in September, the 11-year old son of tribal chieftain Timuay Manda was killed in an assassination attempt against the latter. Manda, who belongs to the Subanen tribe, was also opposed to the entry of large mining firms in their ancestral domain. In the same month, Genesis Ambason of the Banauan tribe was shot, captured, and tortured to death by members of the CAFGU (Civilian Auxiliay Geographic Force Unit) under the Philippine Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion. Tribal leader and village chieftain Jimmy Liguyon was assassinated by members of another paramilitary unit under the Armed Forces in Bukidnon last March 5.
Crisostomo noted that many of the 102 extra-judicial killings under the current administration were environmental activists and opponents of large-scale mining. Among these is Palawan journalist Dr. Gerry Ortega, who was also a vocal critic of attempts to introduce destructive, large-scale mining in his province. Reyes however, slipped out of the country unopposed earlier this year.
“The blatant massacre of civilians in South Cotabato, as well as the continued non-arrest of the suspects in the other killings, point to one thing: they have the blessing of the Palace itself. In his desire to advertise the Philippines to foreign mining companies, Noynoy will not hesitate to shed the blood of our brothers and sisters from the minorities” said the youth leader.