Arrested anti-mining activist missing

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An anti-mining activist in Nueva Vizcaya province was reported missing days after six police officers arrested him on August 21.

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Alfonso Shog-oy, a village official in Nueva Viscaya, said that he witnessed how his friend and known anti-mining activist Bryan Epa, 34, was taken into custody in Bayombong town, Nueva Vizcaya by six police officers because he looked ‘suspicious’.

He said that Epa resisted arrest and was punched in the stomach by two officers,  hit by a baton and was taken away in their patrol car.

Shog-oy and lawyer Fidel Santos went to the police station the next day and found that Epa was no longer detained. They said that police told them Epa was released the night before, but records showed that it was another man named Felix Bacsa Jr.

Shoy-og said that Epa has been missing since.

Epa was said to be an anti-mining activist and among the residents of Nueva Vizcaya opposing the entry of Australian mining company Royalco Philippines Inc. He was also among the locals manning the barricades set up since 2007 to prevent mining equipment from entering their lands.

The Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) condemned the disapperance of Epa, citing other enforced disappearances of activists.

“We fear for the safety of Bryan Epa,” Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesman said.

KAMP said that the police are liable to the disappearance of the anti-mining activist since he was last seen under their custody.

Earlier, KAMP also received report of alleged human rights violations by the military. They said on March 29, several drunken members of the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army allegedly intruded the house of a resident. They said that the man had been assaulted and his wife allegedly harassed sexually.

Residents also said that ten armed men who claimed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) stayed in the barricade of Binauangan. Residents though recognized them as members of the Philippine Army and the CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit).

Locals also reported that soldiers camped in civilian facilities such as in health clinics, village city halls and areas near public schools in Dupax Del Sur and Dupax Del Norte.

“Military encampment in public spaces and near civilian homes is a violation of local and international humanitarian laws. It endangers the people and is causing fear among the residents,” Malayao explained. TITUS EDISON CALAUOR

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