Groups, supporting the opposition of indigenous peoples and faith-based organizations to the Tampakan Copper Gold Mining project, condemn the recent report of ambush of B’laans Eking Freay and his brother-in-law Sonny Boy Planda on June 28.
It was between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. when the two were on their way home after selling their crops in Brgy. Kimlawis when they were fired at by alleged members of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under Task Force KITACO (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio). Planda was fatally wounded and later died while on his way to Davao City for medical treatment, a report said.
Freay, community leader of T’bol of the Bong Mal B’laan Territory, was hit in the right thigh and the back but was able to flee toward Bong Mal.
“We condemn the killings and the attack to indigenous communities who have opposed mining in their area. There is more than enough evidence to show that the presence of paramilitary groups there is detrimental to the communities, especially when we know that Task Force KITACO is paid for by the mining company opposed by the people,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.
Freay is one of the sons of Bong Fulong Anting Freay of the Freay-Capion Clan, and publicly expresses his strong opposition on the presence of SMI/Xstrata and of military detachments in Bong Mal.
“The attemps on the lives of Eking Freay and Sonny Boy Planda adds to the series of unsolved killings victimizing the B’laan community opposing the Tampakan Copper Gold Mining project. The incident clearly illustrates that communities affected by large-scale and destructive mining operations consistently serve as magnets of violence, deception and other forms of human rights violations,” said Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, executive director of the Philippine Human Rights Information Center.
Simbulan also called on the different government agencies to immediately take action.
“We call upon concerned agencies of the Aquino government specifically the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Justice Department to immediately take action so that justice may be served to victims of the crime. We likewise, urge the Commission on Human Rights to implement measures that will protect the indigenous peoples’ right to life and security.”
Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action—Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-NASSA) added: “This kind of incident demands immediate action from the State that should protect and uphold the rights of Filipino peoples. Such impunity done towards our indigenous brothers and sisters in Tampakan is unacceptable. Gathering that this is mining-related, if not solely due to mining investments, then the more that mining should not be allowed in the area.”
During a Congressional Hearing of the National Cultural Communities chaired by Rep. Teddy Brawner-Baguilat in February 2013, then Kiblawan Mayor Marivic Diamante confirmed that Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) is providing funds for the CAFGU and military operations in the KITACO area.
“We demand an immediate investigation of government offices concerning this. This is not a random event and most importantly, this is not the first time that anti-mining indigenous peoples are killed in Bong Mal, where there is strong opposition to the Tampakan mining project,” Garganera concluded.
The groups maintained that opposition to mining operations in the country are nearing tense levels, as violence and human rights abuses against anti-mining communities also escalate. The same environmental and human rights groups urge Congress to pass a new mining law to address these conflicts.
ATM is part of the Tampakan Forum, a coalition of international and local organizations that serves as technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue.