A young man from Midsalip in the Southern Philippine island of Mindanao was stabbed on 13 March after attending a prayer service at a picket line disrupting large-scale mining. It was a Sunday morning when Orlando Bulay was attacked for his efforts to stop drilling exploration for iron ore. He is a regular protestor at a picket line, located on the picturesque Zamboanga Peninsula, which is supported by local Catholic parishes and by Columban Fathers and Sisters. A court case is currently pending against Columbans Fr Sean Martin and Sr Patty Andonaire for their peaceful opposition to mining.
Further south on the Zamboanga Peninsula, in Canatuan, another anti-mining protester was shot and killed a week earlier on 6 March. It happened near a mining project run by Canadian company TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. Rudy Segovia, a local peasant farmer and small scale miner, was shot to death by a company guard in broad daylight after a heated argument over a road blockade which prevented mining company vehicles from passing. Segovia had been challenging the poisoning of drinking water, dynamite blasting and the foul smell coming from a dam of mine waste. The mining company says the security guard was just acting “in self-defence” and that Segovia was wielding a weapon, but this is denied by eye witnesses. They say the guard addressed Segovia saying “Mopahawa ka ba?” meaning “Will you leave?” To this Rudy responded “No. because....” But before he could finish his sentence, he was shot five times and died instantly.
In Midsalip, regular instances of intimidation and violence are being witnessed by Columban priests and sisters. The mining agenda is being promoted in a very aggressive manner by people connected with the previous Philippine government which endorsed a reckless mining policy. There appears to be a culture of impunity for those connected with mining who attack individuals and communities peacefully protesting against their operations. People are concerned that their livelihoods in agriculture and fisheries will be destroyed by numerous large scale mining projects dotting the country. “It is a miracle that the people of Midsalip continue to persevere with their non-stop picket in the barangays/villages since last October” says Fr Sean Martin, who is based at the nearby Columban House. “It is a testament to their belief in the need to save their tropical environment from over-exploitation and destruction for themselves and future generations,” he added.
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