Philippines told to stop mining protester deaths

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Philippines told to stop mining protester deaths
« on: July 18, 2012, 03:32:36 am »
Radio Australia Posted 18 July 2012, 18:52 AEST

The Philippines President Benigno Aquino has been told to stop the killings of anti-mining activists while his government moves to revitalise the mining sector.

New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it has documented three cases since October last year of three anti-mining and environmental activists allegedly killed by paramilitary forces who may have links to the military.

HRW says the victims had opposed mining activities that could displace tribal communities as well as destroy their communities.

"President Aquino has enacted decrees to encourage mining investment in the Philippines but has done little to stop attacks on environmental advocates," HRW deputy director for Asia, Elaine Pearson said in a statement.

"He should recognise that respecting human rights is crucial for economic development,".

Silent on abuse
Mr Aquino issued a new mining policy early this month aimed at boosting revenues from mining and increasing environmental safeguards.

But Ms Pearson says the policy is silent on the issue of alleged rights abuses by paramilitary forces deployed by the military to protect mining companies from attacks by the country's rebel movements.

Philippines government spokesman Ramon Carandang said the government did not tolerate attacks against environmentalists or other advocacy groups.

He acknowledged previous cases of activists killed, but stressed investigations were being carried out to get those behind the attacks.

In October, Italian activist priest Fausto Tentorio was shot and killed by a gunman while inside his parish compound in the town of Arakan in the southern island of Mindanao.

Four suspects had been identified from a local paramilitary group, though no one has been arrested.

Two other activists were killed in March and May, while in January last year, an environmentalist broadcaster was gunned down in the western island of Palawan for his advocacy.

A former governor who is alleged to have planned the journalist's murder is in hiding after a court ordered his arrest.

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