Mindanao group urges Congress to look into killings of environmentalists

November 10, 2012 12:23 am 

DAVAO CITY, Nov. 9 -– A network advocates for the environment group Panalipdan Mindanao (Defenders and Advocates of Environment, Creation and Patrimony) has urged the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives to investigate the killing of at least 32 environmentalists since 2010.

Sister Stella Matutina, convenor of Panalipdan Mindanao, revealed that 24 of 32 victims were members of the Indigenous Peoples, who defended their ancestral domain.

Matutina presented recently the case of environmentalists during the hearing related to extra-judicial killings and human rights violations conducted by the human rights committee of the House of Representatives at the Mindanao Training Resource Center in Davao Medical School Foundation compound here.

Among the cases presented were the killing of Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio in Arakan, North Cotabato; Juvy Capion and her two children in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur;

Matigsalog Barangay Captain Jimmy Liguyon of San Fernando, Bukidnon; small-scale miner Manrique Santos in Pantukan, Compostela Valley Province; and Banwaon Jenesis Ambason from San Luis, Agusan del Sur.

Matutina said 24 of the 32 victims were tribal leaders who were just defending their lands from encroachments by big mining companies.

During the House hearing Nov 8, relatives of the victims pointed to the military and militiamen as perpetrators as part of the military’s Oplan Bayanihan.

But in the Nov 9 hearing, the AFP through AFP’s Human Rights Office chief Brig Gen Domingo Tutaan, Jr. defended the government’s Oplan Bayanihan.

He said the program was doing well as he also asked for some copies of the complaints furnished to the HR committee but has not been given a copy.

Tutaan also denied having knowledge of the presence of some armed groups in Arakan North Cotabato, prompting the house committee to request the AFP and the Philippine National Police to submit a report on the presence and status of armed group operating in their areas.

Tutaan also requested the committee to furnish him with copies of all the documents including testimony of witnesses and victims’ relatives for them to make appropriate actions against their personnel if indeed they erred in doing their duty. (PNA)

HBC/JLC/LDP/UTB

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