[Urgent Appeal] Death Threat against an Anti-Mining Advocate and A Human Rights Defender in Zambales Province -TFDP

URGENT APPEAL: Death Threat against an Anti-Mining Advocate and A Human Rights Defender in Zambales Province
October 28, 2014

Dear friends,

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) is forwarding to you an appeal regarding the death threat received by a human rights defender due to his involvement in the efforts for the cancellation of mining operations in the province of Zambales.

TFDP logo small

If you wish to make any inquiries, please contact the Research, Documentation and Information Program of TFDP at: 45 St. Mary Street, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines 1109; email: tfdp.urgentappeals@gmail.com and tfdp.1974@gmail.com; or call: +632 4378054.
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Case Title: Molino HAR
Case: Harassment
Name of Victim: Benito E. Molino
Date of Incident: October 15, 2014
Place of Incident: Via Facebook Post
Alleged Perpetrator: a certain Dexter Movilla, also known as Mark Minimo
Motive: Harassment against an Anti-Mining Advocate and A Human Rights Defender

Account of the Incident:

An expert in forensic medicine and an anti-mining advocate, Doctor Benito E. Molino received a death threat via private message to his Facebook account which was posted by a certain Dexter Movilla, also known as Mark Minimo, on October 15, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.

The message was (in Tagalog dialect), “Mxado kng ma papel mga tao nwlan ng trabho dhl sau tndaan m isang bala k lng mag ingat ingat k bka isang araw patay kna.”

(You’re a meddler. People lose their jobs because of you. Keep in mind that one bullet can kill you. Beware, one day you’re dead.)

Another message was sent on October 12, 2014 at 8:08 p.m. It said, (also in Tagalog), “Wla pla mrami ng wlng trabaho nyan dhl sa pilit ny0ng ipahnto ang mining Alm nyo b dhl sa gnwa nyo mraming gl8 sa in u d mta2hmik buhay nyo sa gnwa nyo lahat ng mining pna hnto nyo.”

(People lose their jobs because you coerced the mining company to stop. Do you know, because of what you did, many are angry with you, you will not have peace because of what you did, you stopped all mining operations.)

Dr. Molino, fondly called as “Doc Ben”, 57, is at the center of the struggle against mining operations in Sta. Cruz. Currently, he has been at the receiving end of criticisms from supporters of mining companies in the province. Mine workers have blamed Doc Ben for the suspension of mining activities that cost them their jobs.

Doc Ben is the chairperson of the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS). CCOS is of the active anti-mining groups in the province that has been strongly campaigning for the cancellation of mining operations due to the vast amount of destruction in the environment that would eventually affect the health and livelihood of the people. According to Doc Ben, nickel laterite (soil layer rich in nickel compound) has clogged the natural flow of water from rivers, creeks, fishponds, shorelines and farmlands. Apparently, more than 300 hectares of farmlands have already been destroyed which has caused farmers of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria millions worth of income.

On July 15, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office in Central Luzon suspended the operations of four mining companies that extract nickel laterite in the province, citing their “unsystematic mining or stripping method.” Doc Ben claimed that the suspension order was only an initial victory for Sta. Cruz residents who, they say, have been struggling to revive their sources of livelihood, which are mostly farming and fishing.

Recently, mine workers appealed to the provincial officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to lift the suspension order against four mining companies in Sta. Cruz, Zambales such as the Diversified Metals Corporation, Benguet Corporation Nickel Mines Inc., Eramen Minerals Inc., and LNL Archipelago Minerals Inc.

Aside from his activities in the anti-mining movement, Doc Ben is currently working with the Medical Action Group (MAG), in partnership with the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) for the protection of human rights defenders in the country. Doc Ben is a lecturer and an expert in medical investigation and documentation of torture cases. He is also involved in the investigation and documentation of alleged cases of enforced disappearances, particularly in exhumations.

Sample letter:

Dear___________,

I am writing to draw your attention regarding the death threat received by Dr. Benito Molino, 51, due to his involvement in the efforts for the cancellation of mining operations in the province of Zambales.

Dr. Molino received a death threat via private message to his Facebook account which was posted by a certain Dexter Movilla, also known as Mark Minimo, on October 15, 2014 at 10:35 a.m.

The message was (in Tagalog dialect), “Mxado kng ma papel mga tao nwlan ng trabho dhl sau tndaan m isang bala k lng mag ingat ingat k bka isang araw patay kna.”

(You’re a meddler. People lose their jobs because of you. Keep in mind that one bullet can kill you. Beware, one day you’re dead.)

Another message was sent on October 12, 2014 at 8:08 p.m. It said, (also in Tagalog), “Wla pla mrami ng wlng trabaho nyan dhl sa pilit ny0ng ipahnto ang mining Alm nyo b dhl sa gnwa nyo mraming gl8 sa in u d mta2hmik buhay nyo sa gnwa nyo lahat ng mining pna hnto nyo.”

(People lose their jobs because you coerced the mining company to stop. Do you know, because of what you did, many are angry with you, you will not have peace because of what you did, you stopped all mining operations.)

I have learned that Dr. Molino is at the center of the struggle against mining operations in Sta. Cruz. Currently, he has been at the receiving end of criticisms from supporters of mining companies in the province. Mine workers have blamed Dr. Molino for the suspension of mining activities that cost them their jobs.

It was also brought to our attention that Dr. Molino and his group, the Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz, Zambales (CCOS), has been strongly campaigning for the cancellation of mining operations due to the vast amount of destruction in the environment that would eventually affect the health and livelihood of the people. According to Dr. Molino, nickel laterite (soil layer rich in nickel compound) has clogged the natural flow of water from rivers, creeks, fishponds, shorelines and farmlands. Apparently, more than 300 hectares of farmlands have already been destroyed which has caused farmers of Sta. Cruz and Candelaria millions worth of income.

From what I have learned, on July 15, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office in Central Luzon has already suspended the operations of four mining companies that extract nickel laterite in the province, citing their “unsystematic mining or stripping method.” And from what I understand, the suspension order is only an initial victory for Sta. Cruz residents since they have been struggling to revive their sources of livelihood, which are mostly farming and fishing.

Furthermore, aside from his activities in the anti-mining movement, Dr. Molino is currently working with the Medical Action Group (MAG), in partnership with the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) for the protection of human rights defenders in the country. Dr. Molino is an expert in medical investigation and documentation of torture cases; and is also involved in the investigation and documentation of alleged cases of enforced disappearances, particularly in exhumations.

We now urge you to call upon competent authorities to carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation or inquiry into this harassment case, and ensure that adequate, effective and prompt action is granted favorably to Dr. Benito E. Molino.

Lastly, we hope that the government will continue to guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution and international human rights standards, and to subject violators for appropriate penalties punishment under Philippine Laws.

I look forward to your urgent action in this case.

Yours sincerely,

______________________________

Please send your letters to:

1. Hon. Benigno Simeon Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Email: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@op.gov.ph

2. Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
Visayas Avenue
Diliman, 1100 Quezon City
Philippines
Fax: +63 2 920 4301
Tel: +63 2 920 4352; +63 2 926 2688; +632 926 2535; +63 2 925 8275
Email: osec@denr.gov.ph

3. Secretary Leila M. De Lima
Department of Justice (DOJ)
Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila 1000
Philippines
Fax: +632 523 9548
Tel: +632 521 1908
Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph / lmdelima.doj@gmail.com

4. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Philippines
Tel: +63 2 928 5655, +63 2 926 6188
Fax: +63 2929 0102
Email: rosales.chr@gmail.com

5. Police Director General Alan LA Madrid Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: +63 2 724 8763/ +63 2 723 0401
Tel: + 63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

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