[Press Release] Three-year imprisonment for killing environmental activist – Not enough! -ATM

Three-year imprisonment for killing environmental activist – Not enough!
Case is over with no justice, laments Marin family and supporters

Sibuyan, Romblon – Armin Marin, a staunch environmental activist in Sibuyan, Romblon and was then a member of the municipal council was shot dead on October 3, 2007 while leading a picket of hundreds of anti-mining advocates, after five years of investigation and court hearing, Mario Kingo, the man accused of killing Marin only received three-year imprisonment.

Killed but no murder
On May 23, 2012 in Magdiwang, Romblon, Executive Judge Ramiro R. Geronimo acquitted Mario Kingo from murder charges but was found guilty of criminal negligence and imprudence. The court ruling gave bearing on statement that the grappling of the gun between Marin and Kingo led to the incident.

In his verdict, Judge Geronimo promulgated that there was no substantial evidence to establish the intent to commit such crime.

Grapple for Justice
“The verdict had been served but not justice,” said Domingo Marin, father of Armin and president of Sibuyanon’s Against Mining. “We were upset upon hearing the decision. At this time, we don’t know what to do. We don’t just lose the case, it also feels like that we have lost our hope, justice is nowhere to find in this country” Domingo lamented.

On the other hand, Rodilisa Marin wife of Armin was completely devastated by the decision. “I really expect that the punishment would be more than just that, he was killed, killed helplessly.”

Growing Sympathy
Few hours after the verdict was announced, people in Sibuyan showed grave disappointment and rained their comments on various online portals. On Facebook, supporters of Armin Marin questioned the decision. “On what ground Ramiro Geronimo came up with that sentence, another insult to the injury for the victim? Geronimo should go back to law school, he seems to miss on a lot of things when it comes to making the call for justice,” said Romeo Sosbreno, facebook user.

A new Facebook page was also created to again call for justice for Armin Marin. The page, Justice to Armin, save Sibuyan (and Romblon Province), posted the actual photo of Marin during the time he was shot with blood bursting from his mouth.

Environmental groups and Human Rights Advocates were also dismayed on the court ruling.

Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina said that the killing of Armin was also a crime committed to the people of Sibuyan. “Hundred of protesters saw what happened, how Kingo grab Armin on his shirt drag him on his lap and shot him on his mouth. The promulgation is like telling the people that they are lying and what they saw did not happen.”

“But there is a bigger contentions on this,” said Garganera. “How it could be just ‘grappling’ of the gun, when Armin was shot in his mouth and the bullet went through the back of his head. It was hilariously bad; you grapple and put the gun in your mouth?”

Meanwhile, Fr. Edu Gariguez, 2012 Goldman Environmental Awardee and the executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action said that the promulgation sends a bad signal for other activist that putting their lives into the line is tantamount only to a three-year imprisonment of the murderer.

“Let us not forget the subject of protest of Armin and the people on Sibuyan. They want the Sibuyan Nickel Development Properties Corporation to pull out their mining project and make Sibuyan Island a mining-free zone,” Gariguez added.

Gariguez asked: “People are crying out loud for justice – for Armin Marin and the Sibuyan Island – will it ever be heard? People risked their lives for the environment and no justice to be served. Ganun na lang ba yun?” (30)

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and the passage of the Philippine Mineral Resources Act a.k.a. Alternative Minerals Management Bill.

ATM Press Release
May 24, 2012

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