Gunman shoots environmentalist opposed to destructive mining, illegal
logging in Southern Philippines

http://www.mindanaoexaminer.com/news.php?news_id=20121030021620
30 October 2012

PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 30, 2012) – An unidentified gunman shot and wounded the head of an environmental group who was opposing destructive mining and illegal logging operations in the southern Philippines, according to Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

It said Dr. Isidro Olan, executive director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation, was shot while he was driving home in the town of Carmen in Surigao del Sur on Monday afternoon. “Dr. Olan was a passionate environment defender who opposed destructive and large-scale mining as well as illegal logging activities in Cantilan and other areas of Surigao del Sur. We ask for everyone’s prayers for Dr. Olan’s immediate recovery, and for justice to be swiftly exacted upon the assassins and their clients as well,” Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson for the Task Force Justice for Environment Defenders, said in a statement sent Tuesday to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The motive of the attack is still unknown, but Castor said there could be no other motivation to assassinate 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,” the priest said.

Clemente Bautista, convener of the Defend Patrimony Alliance, said the failed assassination of Olan sent a chilling effect to environmental advocates.

“It’s not even Halloween and yet this latest attack on Dr. Olan already produces a chilling effect to environmental advocates. The year 2012 is already the bloodiest year for environmental advocates in this new millennium, and it infuriates us to remember that President Benigno 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?” Bautista asked.

Both groups demanded for an immediate and independent investigation of the attempted assassination of Olan. No individuals or groups claimed responsibility for the attack.

In September, gunmen ambushed a Subanen tribal leader Timuay Locenio Manda and his son Jordan in Zamboanga del Sur province. His son was killed in the attack.

Manda, who is fighting for their ancestral lands, was heading to school to bring his son when gunmen attacked them in the town of Bayog. Two of the 5 attackers, were arrested days later.

“In my effort to assert our rights and to protect our people and ancestral domain, my beloved son was sacrificed. It is very painful and I thirst for justice,” he said. “I vow to continue my struggle in order not to make my son’s death in vain. I need your support in this most
trying time of my life as a father and a leader.”

Manda’s group – representing the 3,000-strong Council of Pigsalabukan Guhom de Bayog – is claiming some 23,800 hectares of lands in the town where several mining companies are operating.

Government authorities recently shut down illegal mining activities in Bayog and charged at least 16 people, including a town councilor, accused as one of the mining financiers. (Mindanao Examiner)
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CaragaWatch Strongly Condemns Shooting of Staunch Environmental Activist Dr. Isidro Olan!
CaragaWatch statement
30 October 2012

On October 29, 2012 at around 3:30 in the afternoon, Dr. Isidro Olan, founding president and executive director of Lovers of Nature Foundation was shot by identified men while he and his wife were on their way home in Brgy. Puyat, Carmen, Surigao del Sur. Dr. Olan is one of the most vocal and known anti-logging and anti-mining activist in the Carrascal, Cantilan, Madrid, Carmen and Lanuza (CarCanMadCarLan) area of Surigao del Sur. Dr. Olan along with the local environmental groups and the Catholic Church are actively campaigning to stop mining in the area, have been exposing the rising illegal logging of CarCanMadCarLan forests and are calling for the election of pro-environment candidates.

In September of this year, local environmental groups and organizations exposed the increasing illegal logging in the area by those allegedly close to the higher ups in government despite the implementation of Pres. Aquino’s Executive Order 23 declaring a nationwide total log ban and increased military presence. They are also strongly calling for the termination of mining operations in the area. There are 2 nickel and gold mining companies in the agricultural town of Cantilan (Marcventures Mining and Development Corp.; Carac-an Development Corp.) covering almost 10,000 hectares of land, while close to 12,000 hectares are being mined by 2 companies in neighboring Carrascal town (C.T.P Construction and Mining Corp., Carrascal Nickel Co.) with 1 mining exploration in Carmen.

The shooting of Dr. Isidro Olan is but one of the countless attempts to silence the growing clamor of the people of Caraga to put a stop to the increasing number of destructive large scale operations of mining, logging and plantations in the region. Sixteen (16) of the country’s mining operations are in Caraga and as of June 2012 there are 57 Mineral Production Sharing Agreements covering 134,994.9880 hectares or 7% of Caraga’s land area. There are 3 palm oil plantations and 3 banana plantations scattered in the region and a number of wood-based companies in operation.

Leaders of people’s organizations, environmental groups, even local government officials that oppose mining, logging and plantations are being harassed, threatened and trumped up criminal cases have and are being filed against them in the different courts in the region. Communities opposed to mining and plantations are being militarized under Pres. Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan which has resulted to forced evacuations. There are 6 military battalions and 2 infantry brigades currently deployed as Investment Security Forces around the region implementing military operations within mining,logging and plantation communities. This year alone 297 lumad families with 1,106 individuals were forced to evacuate from their mountain communities in Kitcharao and Cabadbaran City, Agusan del Norte and Alegria and Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte because of military operations and indiscriminate bombings. These communities are within or are surrounding nickel and gold mining operations and have been vocal in their opposition against these.

The shooting of Dr. Olan is no different from the killing of anti-mining activist Dr. Gerry Ortega of Palawan; Italian priest Fr. Pops Tentorio of Cotabato who fought against mining operations in Mindanao; lumad leader Gilbert Paborada of Cagayan de Oro who fought against land grabbing by a palm oil plantation in his community; Brgy. Capt. Jimmy Liguyon of Bukidnon and Brgy. Capt. Ricardo Ganad of Oriental Mindoro who both opposed the entry of mining operations in their barangays; Dutch environmentalist Willem Geertman of Pampanga; known botanist Leonard Co and the very recent massacre of the wife and 2 sons of B’Laan leader Daguel Capion who declared war against Sagittarius Mines in Tampakan .

According to Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment there have been 25 instances of killings of environmental advocates under Pres. Aquino’s administration. Despite the increasing killings and human rights violations happening under his watch, Pres. Aquino has not been taking significant steps to stop the atrocities. He has even reached the point of denying such human rights violations calling these mere “propaganda of the left” in an interview in New Zealand. Pres. Aquino has recently been to New Zealand and Australia to encourage foreign mining investments to the Philippines.

All these are happening under the “Daang Matuwid” government of Pres. Aqunio. Like his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pres. Noynoy Aquino has maintained and improved upon government policies and programs that ensure the continued plunder of the country’s natural resources. Arroyo’s Investment Defense Forces (IDF), whose sole purpose is to ensure the continued mining, logging and plantation operations of large foreign and domestic companies has been renamed as the Investment Security Forces (ISF) by the Aquino administration. These increased military presence to secure large investments and ensure continued despoiling of our natural resources has given the plunderers of the land the license to use violence against the people and communities that oppose the destruction of the environment.

We strongly condemn the shooting of Dr. Isidro Olan as we condemn all violent attempts to silence the resistance of the people in Caraga and the country against the plunder of our natural resources and our national patrimony! Environmental activists will continue to make their protests against the destruction of the environment be heard. Our advocacy for the protection of the environment and the appropriate utilization of mineral resources for Filipinos will not rest. We will continue to expose environmental destruction by foreign and local resource extraction operations. Our protests against Pres.Aqunio’s pro-foreign, anti-Filipino people mining programs and policies will persist.

Stop the plunder of our natural resources!
Scrap the Philippine Mining Act of 1995!
Scrap Pres. Aquino’s Executive Order 79!
Stop the persecution of environmental activists and advocates!
Respect our rights to protect our land and our people!

For reference:
Fr. Raymond Ambray Spokesperson, CaragaWatch CP No: +639399023699
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Ambush of Surigao anti-mining leader condemned
Task Force Justice for Environment Defenders Press Release
30 October 2012

Environmental groups condemned another attempted assassination of an environmentalist in Carmen, Surigao del Sur. At around 3:30PM on October 29, Dr. Isidro Olan, executive director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation Inc., was shot by unidentified assailants in an abandoned lumber-scaling area as he was driving homebound. Dr. Olan survived the attack and was rushed to the Madrid Municipal Hospital.

“Dr. Olan was a passionate environment defender who opposed destructive and large-scale mining as well as illegal logging activities in Cantilan and other areas of Surigao del Sur. We ask for everyone’s prayers for Dr. Olan’s immediate recovery, and for justice to be swiftly exacted upon the assassins and their clients as well,” said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of Task Force Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED).

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.

Locals have noted the saturation of military operations from the Philippine Army’s 30th and 38th IBPA and its 3rd Special Forces of the 402nd Brigade in the area started with the entry of Marcventures and other mining operations.

“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.

The Defend Patrimony called for an immediate and independent investigation of the attempted assassination, and the demobilization of Investment Defense Forces (IDF) which allows military and police forces to be employed by corporations to protect their mining facilities and operations.###

– CLEMENTE BAUTISTA National Coordinator Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines 1100 Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099 Email: kalikasan.pne@gmail.com Website: www.kalikasan.net