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'Kasibu 5' illegally detained, charged with harassment suits

PRESS RELEASE
6 October 2017

'Kasibu 5' illegally detained, charged with harassment suits

Five local residents of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya were illegally detained by a joint military-police force and slapped with trumped-up charges of possession of illegal explosives. This was the most recent episode of the ongoing militarization by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against anti-mining communities in the big mining-encroached municipality.

"We condemn this latest attempt to terrorize and quell the Nueva Vizcaya people's resistance against foreign plunderers such as the Oceanagold mining corporation," said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).

The group was travelling on a jeep when they were flagged down in a joint checkpoint of military and police in the nearby town of Bambang. They were accused as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and were immediately arrested. They were charged with trumped up cases of Illegal Possession of Explosives, a non-bailable offense.

The victims were Marilyn Lango, a treasurer of Barangay Camamasi and Board Director of the Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Manggagawa at Magsasaka, Inc.(SAPAKKMMI) - Camamasi Chapter; Vicente Ollagon, an incumbent councillor of Barangay Bilet and a member of Kasibu Inter-Tribal Response for Ecological Development (KIRED); Joshua Hiquiana, a minor from Bilet, and his guardian Ferdinand Pakiwon, also a member of KIRED; and Jogiemar Wayas, a church worker of Jesus is Our Shield - WorldWide Ministry.

KIRED and SAPAKKMMI are local people's organizations who have led campaigns against mining plunder, including the exploration activities of Royalco in 2013, and the current attempts to expand the operations of Australian mining transnational corporation Oceanagold. They recently participated in the thousands-strong National Lakbayan (protest caravan) of national minorities that waged protests across different government agencies and company offices.

"The military has recently intensified the militarization of communities in Kasibu after suffering casualties from an ambush by New People's Army (NPA) rebels in the area. Locals even reported that soldiers under the 84th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have openly accused the anti-mining communities of Kasibu of being supporters of NPA," Dulce said.

"These are increasingly dissatisfied communities who are disappointed with Duterte government's failure to deliver its promise to close down Oceanagold and other destructive large-scale mines. Duterte's rhetoric on cracking down on irresponsible mines are belied by his military acting as mercenary investment defense forces for Oceanagold and other big mines," Dulce explained.

The environmental group called for the immediate release of the Kasibu 5, asserting that "it is not a crime to defend the environment and struggle for land and life." They also demanded for the pull-out of military and police troops out of the anti-mining communities.

"We also demand for the immediate enforcement of a standing suspension order against 28 erring large-scale mining operations including Oceanagold. These large-scale mines are cited as "vital installations" to be protected by the military to justify terrorizing anti-mining communities," Dulce ended.#