Posted March 19, 2011, Staff, Manila Sun Star, sunstar.com.ph
RELATIVES and friends of slain environmental activists launched a campaign to seek justice for human rights victims, especially those who are environmental advocates.
The Justice for Environmental Defenders Campaign also intends to foster unity among the relatives of the victims of extra-judicial killings by sharing their experiences and their struggle for justice.
Among those who attended the launching are the relatives of slain environmental activists like Dr. Gerry Ortega, botanist Leonard Co, and Councilor Armin Marin, the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment said in a statement.
“We are also victims of injustice in our country. We continue to suffer and agonize not only because our loved ones were killed but also because we continue to be deprived of justice and compensation that are due to us,” said Cristina Guevarra, Secretary General of Hustisya, an organization of relatives of victims of extra-judicial killings and other forms of political repression.
“The killings of environmental activists still continue. The latest victim, Rudy Segovia, a peasant who was killed while protesting the operation of Canadian mining firm TVI in his hometown Siocon, Zamboanga Sibugay, is already the fifth (5th) environmental activist killed during the Aquino administration,” said Marjorie Pamintuan, spokesperson of Kalikasan PNE.
Segovia was shot by the security guard of the mining company during a protest action in front of the TVI office.
“My son was also killed more than three years ago during a protest action protecting the environment and the people of Romblon from the effects of mining. But until now, we are still waiting for justice to be served. In spite of strong evidences and several witnesses against the perpetrators of the crime, the case is still being heard in court,” said Domingo Marin, president of Sibuyanons Against Mining (SAM) and the father of town councilor Armin Marin, who was gunned down on October 3, 2007 while leading an anti-mining rally in front of the office of Sibuyan Nickel Property Development Corp. in Sibuyan, Romblon.
The shooting and death of Armin Marin was caught on video and witnessed by hundreds of people.
Glenda Co, wife of slain botanist Leonard Co, lamented that the wheels of justice grinds very slowly under the Aquino administration.
“It seems the Aquino administration has no intention to stop these killings and make the perpetrators accountable. We have yet to hear President Aquino condemn the massacre of my husband and his two companions. Despite the damning testimonies of the witnesses and physical evidences pinpointing to the Philippine Army as responsible for the death of my husband and his companions, the investigating panel of Department of Justice tried to cover up for the military by saying it was the New People’s Army,” she said.
Leonard Co, Sofronio Cortez, and Julius Borromeo were killed while undertaking biodiversity research work in the forest of Kananga, Leyte. The families of the victims filed criminal charges against the officers and soldiers of 19th IB of the Philippine Army.
“We will continue fighting against the persecution of environmental and political activists in the country. This is one way of paying tribute to our environmental martyrs. More so, we will continue to fight against the destructive projects and policies of both private and the government entities like large-scale mining and commercial logging. We will not stop until justice has been served to environmental defenders,” Marjorie Pamintuan said.