SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Anti-mining activist and environmentalist Dr. Isidro Olan survived an ambush in Carmen, Surigao del Sur at around 3:30PM on October 29.
In a press release Katribu condemned the attempted assassination on Dr. Olan’s life:
He survived the attempt on his life and is now recuperating at the Madrid Municipal Hospital. He is the Executive Director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation Inc. and a member of CARAGA Watch. The CARAGA Watch is a multi-sectoral group that calls for a stop of large-scale mining operations, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the immediate stop of military operations in the hinterlands of the region (Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands) which reportedly displaced 335 Mamanwa families or 1,156 individuals early this year.
The attempt on Dr. Olan’s life comes after the massacre of Daguil Capion’s family in Davao del Sur this October 18; the killings of Genesis Ambason and Gilbert Paborada on 2 and 3 October 2012 by unidentified gunmen in Agusan del Sur and Cagayan de Oro, respectively; and on the ambush of Timuay Luceno Manda this 5 September that led to death of his 12-year old son Jordan. Like Dr. Olan, they are opposed to destructive projects specifically large-scale mining, oil palm plantations, logging, energy projects and other commercial interests in indigenous peoples’ lands.
We think of no reason behind the killings and attempted killings, and the filing of trumped-up charges against indigenous peoples and their advocates but to scare and terrify them. It is meant to silence the heightening opposition to these projects and break the intensifying ancestral land defense.
Now we ask who is behind these killings. Who else would benefit from the death and incarceration of activists and ancestral land defenders?
We hold the Aquino government accountable for the above killings and other human rights violations. He has done or said nothing on these killings. Instead, he continues to defend his counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan that terrorizes indigenous peoples. His collusion with mining, logging, palm oil, energy companies is seen in his directive of creating mining militias and in supporting paramilitary groups to protect these destructive projects.
The environmental group Kalikasan also condemned the ambush:
The physician-activist and his group Lovers of Nature Foundation were planning to launch a voter education campaign in the province’s schools to promote an environmental agenda in the coming 2013 elections, particularly local government officials that have supported environmentally destructive corporations such as the logging company Surigao Development Corporation and the large-scale Marcventures Mining and Development Corporation.
“It’s not even Halloween and yet this latest attack on Dr. Olan already produces a chilling effect to environmental advocates. 2012 is already the bloodiest year for environmental advocates in this new millennium, and it infuriates us to remember that Pres. Noynoy Aquino dismissed the ever mounting cases of human rights violations in the country is dismissed as just propaganda of the Left. Is the attempt to take the life of Dr. Olan for his defense of the environment not real enough for Aquino?,” said Clemente Bautista, convener of the Defend Patrimony Alliance, a network opposed to resource plunder particularly in mining.
In this year alone, the TF-JED recorded 13 extrajudicial killings of environmental advocates. Beyond killings, the frustrated murder of Dr. Olan is the second case of attempted assassination and at least the 20th overall incident of human rights violations (HRVs) in the country in 2012. Recently, Juvy Capion and her sons Pops and John were massacred by elements of the 27th IBPA of the Philippine Army.
“There could be no other motivation to assassinate Dr. Olan than his staunch opposition to ecologically destructive projects in their areas. If the Aquino government claims to be hard workers for the protection of human rights, we demand to hear about their work on Dr. Olan’s case now. In fact, we would like to hear what about what they have done now about the 61 extrajudicial killings of environment defenders we recorded since 2001 that remains languishing in court up to the present,” challenged Fr. Castor.
“Militarization of Surigao del Sur as a means of protecting mining investments have brought a spate of not only HRVs but also the violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of its indigenous people and other grassroots communities. Militarization could well be linked to Dr. Olan’s assassination. We demand the pullout of military operations along with Marcventures from Surigao as an important step to the quelling of HRVs in the area. Aquino must also prioritize the junking of various mining liberalization policies that have legalized the militarization of mining areas as an incentive for foreign mining investments,” said Bautista.