DAVAO DEL NORTE, Philippines—An environmental group on Thursday hit the continued crackdown against environmental defenders who are opposing a project of the Asturias Chemical Industries in the province of Batangas.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said environmental activists are opposing the proposed limestone mining project owned by business tycoons Ramon Ang and Eduardo Cojuangco.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment said: “there is a brutal shadow war being waged against the stalwart dissenters opposing business tycoons Ramon Ang and Eduardo Cojuangco’s Asturias mining project.”
Bautista reported that two peasant leaders were already killed while five have been “illegally” arrested and detained after trumped-up charges were filed against dissenters.
On August 3, peasant leader Lito Casalla of the Samahan ng Magbubukid sa Batangas (SAMBAT) was shot dead by unknown gunmen.
Casalla’s death came last September 3 after the killing of Engracio delos Reyes, vice president of the Samahan ng Maliliiit na Mangingisda at Magsasaka sa Calatagan (SMMMC).
Both groups are known staunch oppositionists to the entry of Asturias, said Bautista.
Bautista also reported that on October 6, five locals now collectively known as the “Calatagan 5”—Noel Delos Reyes, Eduardo Penafloreda, Senando Marco, Allan Dimaisip, and Joseph Marasigan—were arrested by police and jailed over trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Meanwhile, Agaton Bautista, secretary general of SAMBAT, scored the intensified “militarization” of anti-mining communities in Calatagan, Batangas.
He claimed that the presence of government security forces resulted to the “displacement of farmers and fisherfolks from our resource-rich lands.”
Asturias has a Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau which gave the company license to exploit over 808 hectares of the land for its limestone.
The groups said the MPSA was issued covering the disputed area despite the peasants already having an “Emancipation Patent” over these lands.(davaotoday.com)