Manila: A bishop in Mindanao has sounded the alarm on continuing attacks on environmental activists as he feared that the actions would continue until the perpetrators are brought to justice.
Reports reaching Manila quoted Bishop Jose Cabantan of the Diocese of Malaybalay in Central Mindanao’s Bukidnon province as saying that the murder of Margarita Cabal of Task Force Save Pulangi River is the latest of the spate of killings taking place in the province.
“We condemn of the series of killings here in Bukidnon… not just the environmentalists because many people here are being killed. Criminalities are going on,” Cabantan told Church-run Radyo Veritas.
Unidentified men shot and killed Cabal, a known leader of a group campaigning against the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Pulangi River, the Pulangi V Hydropower Project.
The church official added that the killing of Cabal might have something to do with her advocacy to protect the Pulangi River and her campaign against mining in the province.
According to the Kalikasan – People’s Network for the Environment (PNE), the Pulangi dam project will severely affect the lives of some 6,000 people living in Central Mindanao.
PNE said that the construction of the dam in the area would cause the displacement and loss of livelihood of people in the area.
It added that the Manobo tribe, whose ancestral domain and history is rooted in the area, would be deprived of security, rights to ancestral domain and culture, if the project pushes through.
Kalikasan-PNE, said Cabal is the 13th environmental activist killed under the current administration of President Benigno Aquino III. Nine of these cases had taken place in Mindanao.
On October 17, 2011, an anti-mining priest, Father Fausto Tentorio was shot by a gunman while inside the Church in Arakan town in North Cotabato. His killing remains unsolved up to this day.
Due to this “alarming” situation, the bishop called on Aquino III for greater protection of environmentalists.
He also urged the Aquino administration to investigate and resolved the series of killings in Bukidnon province.
Just last Friday, the anti-graft, Office of the Ombudsman reactivated a unit tasked to go after government men, companies and individuals whose acts cause destruction to nature.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales reactivated a team of investigators and prosecutors whose task is to go after government officials and individuals accused of violating environmental laws.