Filipino nun threatened by military

 A Filipino Benedictine nun has accused government soldiers of harassing her and other environmental activists campaigning against mining projects
and promoting sustainable agriculture.

Sr Stella Matutina said armed soldiers wearing camouflaged uniforms harassed her and two environmentalists, in the early hours of the morning,
after they organized a village forum on mining issues.

"Armed men barged in and roused all of us at gunpoint," Sister Stella Matutina, 40, said in a press conference in the southern Davao City. "They demanded to see the documents and materials used during the forum."

The Sisters' Association in Mindanao condemned the incident adding: "The Armed Forces of the Philippines is sending out the chilling message that
no religious can disrupt their plans of protecting the interests of logging, mining and big businesses."

Sr Matutina, together with Panalipdan, a broad alliance of environmentalists and peoples' organisations, has helped in documenting mining activities in Mindanao's Davao Oriental province, including those of the world's largest mining company BHP Billiton.

Major Randolph Cabangbang, regional military spokesperson denied any harassment had taken place and described the incident as propaganda by groups linked to Maoist rebels.

"Our soldiers did not know the nun was there," he said. "What was she doing there? She was supposed to stay in the convent. What she did there
wasn't related to her Church work."

Sister Matutina said the incident infuriated her, but she was most concerned about how soldiers would treat "ordinary people who cannot defend their rights."

first posted 24 February 2009

Source: FIDES

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