Antimining group hits acquittal of suspectPhilippine Daily Inquirer
Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM or Alliance to Stop Mining) has condemned the acquittal of the main suspect in the killing of San Fernando town councilor Armin Marin during an antimining protest in Romblon in 2007.
ATM said the suspect, Mario Kingo, was sentenced to three years for negligence and imprudence, but was cleared of charges he had shot Martin dead.
The ruling was handed down on May 23 by Executive Judge Ramiro Geronimo in Magdiwang town in Romblon, the group said.
Kingo was the chief of the security team of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corp. Mining executives had said that Kingo was just defending himself when he and Marin had a confrontation during the antimining demonstration.
In a statement, ATM said the court had given weight to witnesses’ statements that Marin and Kingo had grappled for the gun during the confrontation, and had ruled that there was no substantial evidence to show that there was an intent to commit a crime.
But according to ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera, many saw what happened and alleged that it was Kingo who grabbed the councilor, dragged him and shot him in the mouth.
“How could it be just ‘grappling’ of the gun, when Armin was shot in his mouth and the bullet went through the back of his head. It was ridiculously laughable; you grapple and put the gun in your mouth?” Garganera said in a statement.
In the same statement, Marin’s father, Domingo, also condemned the court ruling. “The verdict had been served but not justice,” said Domingo, president of Sibuyanon’s Against Mining.
“It also feels like we have lost our hope. Justice is nowhere to be found in this country,” he said.
Marin’s wife Rodilisa said the decision was devastating for her. “I really expected that the punishment would be more than just that. He was killed, killed helplessly,” she said.
Fr. Edu Gariguez, the 2012 Goldman Prize Environmental Awardee and executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, said the ruling showed other activists that should they be killed, their lives were worth only three years in jail for their killers.
Gariguez urged people to remember Marin’s cause. “Let us not forget the subject of protest of Armin and the people in Sibuyan. They want Sibuyan Nickel Development Properties Corp. to pull out their mining project and make Sibuyan Island a mining-free zone,” he said.
On its website, ATM says it is a coalition of organizations and groups that have decided to collectively challenge the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. Leila B. Salaverria