‘Kill’ EO 546 asap
Remembering the martyrdom of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio on his death anniversary last October 17, we renew our call for President Aquino to immediately revoke Executive Order 546, which legitimizes the use of paramilitary groups that have in fact been involved in a number of extrajudicial killings. We urge the President to dismantle all paramilitary groups like the notorious Bagani Tribal Force, which poses a serious threat to civilians like Fr. Peter Geremia, chair of the Justice for Father Pops Movement (JFPM).
In recent months, we have continually received reports of routine murders of indigenous peoples in the Philippines, among them Genesis Ambason, who was tortured and murdered last September 13 in Brgy. Binikalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Ambason bore multiple gunshot wounds and horrific signs of torture, and lost all his teeth. The companions of Ambason who survived the attack point to a paramilitary group under the 26th Infantry Battalion as the killers. Tagdumahan, a grassroots indigenous organization, leads the campaign against Malampay Mining, Tambuli Mining and Makilala Mining. Aladino “Datu Mansubaybay” Badbaran, chair of Tagdumahan, was also killed by the paramilitary in 2009.
It appears that with Mr. Aquino’s expansion and strengthening of the Special Cafgu Auxiliary Action (SCAA) to protect the operations of mining firms, state security forces have become more emboldened to intimidate, torture and kill Filipino indigenous leaders who stand at the forefront of antimining campaigns.
We also heard about the death of the son of indigenous leader Lorencio Manda in the morning of September 4 in Bayog town, Zamboanga peninsula. Lorencio was apparently the assassination target because he was the leader of the antimining campaign in his community, but it was his son Jordan who got hit. The latest victim, Gilbert Paborada, a leader of an indigenous peoples’ organization opposing the oil palm expansion of A. Brown Company in Opol, Misamis Oriental, was shot dead last October 2.
We’re very disappointed that such killings continue under Mr. Aquino’s watch, more so because the victims are our indigenous brothers and sisters in the Philippines. We stand in solidarity with them in their struggle against the plunder of their ancestral domain by foreign mining firms like OceanaGold Mining. We believe that the Philippines, New Zealand and other countries with large-scale mining activities must find ways of creating jobs that don’t damage “Papatuanuku” (the land). In the Maori worldview, land gives birth to all things, including humankind, and provides the physical and spiritual basis for life.—HELEN TE HIRA, Auckland Philippines Solidarity, [email protected]
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