Leader of small-time miners killed in Compostela Valley
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A leader of a group of small-scale miners opposing the entry of a large mining company in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, became the 44th victim of summary execution under the administration of President Aquino, the human rights group Karapatan said Wednesday.
Hanimay Suazo, Karapatan secretary general for Southern Mindanao, said the death of Santos Manrique had something to do with his group’s continuing opposition to the proposed exploration of 1,663 hectares of land in Pantukan for gold by the Nationwide Development Corp. (Nadecor) and its partner, the American company Russell Mining and Minerals.
The Inquirer repeatedly tried but failed to get Nadecor’s reaction.
Manrique, chairman of the Federation of Mining Associations in Pantukan (Fedmap) and an active member of Anakpawis, was shot dead Tuesday. Karapatan said he was the sixth victim of summary execution in southern Mindanao and the 44th nationwide since Aquino assumed power last year.
Last month, Manrique’s group scored a victory when Compostela Valley Governor Arturo Uy ordered Nadecor to stop its operations in Kingking and Napnapan villages due to alleged procedural lapses.
Senior Superintendent Aaron Aquino, Compostela Valley police chief, said the 49-year-old Manrique, who was also a barangay (village) official, was inside his house in Barangay Kingking when he was killed.
“Two assailants barged in and shot him several times using hand guns past 6:30 p.m.,” he said.
Aquino said investigators were told that Manrique, known among his peers as Ricky, was killed because of his opposition to large-scale mining in Pantukan.
He said that because of this, investigators were zeroing in on the victim’s being president of the miners’ association.
“He was very vocal, we were told. He was always present whenever there were rallies,” Aquino told the Inquirer by phone.
On Wednesday, small-scale miners trooped to the provincial capitol in Nabunturan town and protested the “great loss in the fight against the entry of large-scale mining in Pantukan.”
“We also urge the provincial government to act on the case especially on the entry of large-scale mining in Pantukan,” Suazo said.
The environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao said the murder of Manrique will have an impact on the fight against large-scale mining companies in Pantukan.
“We express our deepest sympathy to the family of Ricky Manrique and to the rest of the small-scale mining community in Pantukan. His death is a great loss for the people of Pantukan. Over the years, Ricky Manrique actively took part in the small-scale miners’ struggle against the entry of large-scale and foreign mining corporations in Pantukan,” said Francis Morales, Panalipdan Southern Mindanao secretary general.
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