Anti-mining activist from N. Vizcaya missing

By MARYA SALAMAT, Bulatlat.com –
http://bulatlat.com/main/2013/08/25/anti-mining-activist-from-n-vizcaya-missing/

25 August 2013

A known anti-mining activist has been missing since August 21. The
victim was last seen being forced into a police patrol car but
authorities denied having custody of him.

MANILA – Amid increased police and military visibility in parts of Nueva
Vizcaya where locals are resisting the mining operation of Australian
Royalco in the Philippines, an anti-mining activist went missing after
he was “arrested” and forced to board a police patrol car by at least
six policemen.

Bryan Epa, 34, a member of Katribu party list, was “arrested” at around
9 p.m. on August 21 in Salvacion Dumlao Boulevard village, Bayombong
town, Nueva Vizcaya. Alfonso Shog-oy, a village official, reportedly
witnessed the incident.

According to a statement by Katribu, Shog-oy reportedly dropped Epa in
the area because Epa was to get his bag from a colleague there. When
Shog-oy came back to fetch Epa, he saw six policemen waiting in a patrol
car. Three of the policemen alighted, and Shog-oy heard Epa asking the
police why they were taking away his bag. The police then forced Epa
into the patrol car, but the latter resisted and asked the police why he
was being taken.

The witness related how he heard the policemen tell Epa he was being
taken into custody because he looked ‘suspicious.’ Epa was reportedly
punched in the stomach by two of the policemen, and when he tried to
hold on to a store’s post, the policemen hit his hand hard with a police
baton. The police then managed to force him into the waiting patrol car.

The following day, Shog-oy and lawyer Fidel Santos sought Epa at the
police station, but they did not find him there. The police told them
they released a detained person on the same night that Epa was arrested.
But their records show it was a person named Felix Bacsa Jr., not Epa.

Epa’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) said Epa is
among the residents of Nueva Vizcaya opposing the entry of Australian
mining company Royalco Philippines Inc. Epa is among the locals manning
the barricades, set up since 2007 to prevent mining equipment from
entering their lands.

Kamp expressed concern over Epa’s disappearance. There are still many
unresolved cases of enforced disappearances among activists, it said in
a statement.

“The climate of impunity in the Aquino administration is a breeding
ground for grave human rights violations especially of those perceived
as ‘enemies of the state,’ including those resisting mining operations,”
said Piya Macliing Malayao, Kamp spokeswoman.

The group fears for the safety of Epa.

Kamp said there are 35 cases of extra-judicial killings of indigenous
peoples in the three-year administration of President Aquino. Most of
these killings, it said, were done in the context of community
resistance against mines, plantations, or dams. “Leaders and members of
local people’s organizations and their families are the usual targets of
liquidation by state forces and paramilitary groups.”

Kamp said the police are liable for the disappearance of the anti-mining
activist, because he was last seen in their custody. “Given the human
rights situation in the Philippines and the brutality shown by the
arresting police,” Malayao said “it bode ill for his fate.” Malayao
said. (http://bulatlat.com)
—————————–

Anti-mining activist goes missing after arrest

Philippine impunity continues to grow, says alliance

Joe Torres –
http://www.ucanews.com/news/anti-mining-activist-goes-missing-after-arrest/69104

26 August 2013

Manila, Philippines – An anti-mining activist has been missing since
Wednesday after he was seen being arrested by police in the northern
province of Nueva Vizcaya.

The tribal people’s group Katribu said 34-year-old Bryan Epa was last
seen being forced into a police car in Bayombong town on the evening of
August 21.

Epa has been active in resisting the entry of Australian mining company
Royalco Philippines Inc., manning barricades to prevent mining equipment
from entering their concession.

The Indigenous People’s Alliance expressed concern over Epa’s
disappearance, especially with “still many unresolved cases of enforced
disappearances among activists.”

“The climate of impunity is a breeding ground for grave human rights
violations especially of those perceived as ‘enemies of the state,’
including those resisting mining operations,” said Piya Macliing
Malayao, spokesperson of the alliance.

Malayao said there have been 35 extra-judicial killings of indigenous
people in the past three years. Most of these killings, she said, were
done in the context of community resistance against mines, plantations,
or dams.

“Leaders and members of local people’s organizations and their families
are the usual targets of liquidation by state forces and paramilitary
groups.”

She said the police are liable for the disappearance of Epa because he
was last seen in their custody.

“Given the human rights situation in the Philippines and the brutality
shown by the arresting police,” Malayao said “it bodes ill for his fate.”

Andy Whitmore (Whit)
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)
Communications and Research
Finspace, 225-229 Seven Sisters Road, London, N4 2DA
Ph / fax: + 44 (0)207 263 1002
Email: comms@piplinks.org Web: http://www.piplinks.org

“Big change looks impossible when you start and inevitable when you
finish” – Bob Hunter