Vilification and illegal detention of Tampakan anti-mining activist
‘SOP’ of AFP to quash opposition to destructive mining projects

Kalikasan PNE Press Release

7 May 2014

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE)
denounced the vilification of anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera Jr. as a
member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and his subsequent illegal
detention as an atrocious ‘standard operating procedure’ by the Armed
Forces of the Philippines in harassing and quashing opponents of the
Tampakan gold and copper mining project owned by the
Glencore-Xstrata-SMI group of companies in South Cotabato.

“It has been the AFP’s SOP to vilify, harass, and even ultimately
‘neutralize’ the leaders and members of the opposition to large-scale
mining operations, under their mandate as ‘investment defense forces’
and through the direct payroll of mining companies to their paramilitary
forces. We condemn the latest example of this despicable tactic in the
illegal detention of anti-mining activist Romeo Rivera Jr., under
baseless charges that he is a member of the NPA,” said Clemente
Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.

“The AFP forced Rivera to admit that he is a certain Felix Armodia of
the NPA – another SOP they resort to when they make mistakes in their
captures. In fact, Rivera was one of the organizers of the Earth Day
forum we attended where Tampakan Panalipdan, a local alliance against
Glencore-Xstrata-SMI’s gold-copper project in which Rivera is one of the
conveners, was formally launched,” added Bautista.

Rights violations persisting under Aquino

The group feared that the illegal detention of Rivera may signal the
upsurge once again of human rights violations in Tampakan and other
mining-affected areas. According to the recording of the Task
Force-Justice for Environmental Defenders (TF-JED), at least 10
extrajudicial killings have been perpetrated against critics and
opponents of the Tampakan project under the current administration of
Pres. Noynoy Aquino since 2010.

“It seems the Aquino administration is hell-bent in pushing through with
big-ticket mining items such as the Tampakan project despite the clear
impacts and threats it has posed to the human rights, soci-economic and
environmental situations in the areas to be affected. Let us recall that
Aquino himself defended the Tampakan project and even pushed for its
environmental compliance certificate, despite clear documented evidence
of its violation of humanitarian and environmental laws,” explained

In a recent report by the London-based Global Witness where Kalikasan
PNE and TF-JED served as resources, the Philippines has been singled out
as the deadliest Asian country for environmental advocates and third
deadliest after Brazil and Honduras, with 67 known killings since 2002
and of which 41 were opposing mining operations.

“There are now at least 74 killings of environmental advocates in the
Philippines since 2001, and more than 70 percent of these cases
consistently involve anti-mining activists. Thousands have been
subjected to other forms of human rights violations, with the latest
cases being Rivera’s illegal detention, and the displacement and
harassment of more than 1,300 Pantaron Manobos in Talaingod, Davao del
Norte who have historically fought off big logging, large dam and big
mining interests,” said Leon Dulce, spokesperson of TF-JED.

The Kalikasan PNE and TF-JED called for the immediate release of Rivera,
and the filing of subsequent charges against AFP personnel involved in
the unwarranted arrest. They also reiterated their calls for the
pull-out of the Tampakan mining project along with its military,
paramilitary and security personnel from the communities.

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