Saturday 14 September 2013

Two killed in escalating violence over mining in Davao del Sur Province, Mindanao, the Philippines.

A soldier and a militiaman have died after being shot by unknown assailants near a camp in the Kiblawan Municipality in Davao del Sur Province on Mindanao Island in the Philippines at about 8.00 am local time on Friday 13 September 2013 (midnight between Thursday 12 and Friday 13, GMT). The man have been named as Corporal Ritchie Maravilla (38) and militiaman Enrique Tiogangco, the two were rushed to the Gregorio Matas District Hospital in Poblacion, but were declared dead on arrival. The deaths come as part of a rising cycle of violence in the area, as the Philippine Army and the government-backed KITCO militia which is financed by Sagittarius Mining, Part of Glencore Xstrata, battle members of the B'laan ethnic group opposed to mining in their ancestral lands. The killings are thought to be a revenge attack for the deaths of B'laan leaders opposed to the mines at the hands of the militia.

A demonstration against the Sagittarius Mining in October 2012. Arkibong Bayan.

Large scale, foreign-owned mines have played an important role the the rapid growth of the Philippine economy in the past two decades, however they are often unpopular with local populations. These larger mines pay revenue to the central government, but often provide less employment in local communities than smaller scale artisanal mines, and frequently have a patchy record on environmental and safety issues.

A number of human rights groups have expressed extreme concern at the situation in Davao del Sur, where militias have been implicated in a series of killings of anti-mining activists and B'laan leaders alarmed at the increasing militarization of their ancestral lands.

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