MANILA, Philippines–A known anti-mining advocate based in Caraga region in Mindanao is now fearing for his life following repeated appearances of heavily-armed and masked men in his residence and neighborhood.
Chito Trillanes, spokesperson of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Tandag in Surigao del Sur told Manila Channel he believed his strong stance against mining operations and exposing environmental abuses in Caraga region allegedly caused him to receive death threats.
“The incident started on Friday (May 24) about 1 a.m. when two armed men wearing caps and jackets stepped into our yard, when we noticed them the men immediately fled on board a motorcycle. Our neighbors also noticed this as they’ve been seeing two unidentified men on board a motorcycle frequenting the area.”
“ The threats on my life is serious. I am already afraid of my life and also to that of my family,” added Trillanes, also saying he “needed urgent security and protection support from the government.”
Meanwhile media campaigner of environmental group Green Mindanao said that alleged people behind Trillanes’s recent threats and harassment could also be behind the killing of one tribal leader Datu Manuel “Kajugjug” Gardigo who was reportedly shot dead early morning of May 2 at his residence in Agsam, Lanuza, Surigao Del Sur. Gardigo sustained five shots in different parts of his body.
The perpetrators remained unidentified, Calunsag added.
Kajugjug, like Trillanes, was also behind anti-mining and logging activities in the province being the chairperson of Kalasag, an indigenous people’s organization in Mindanao.
“The pattern is the same as the two men were unidentified in the neighborhood, they were using improvised motorcycle locally called as habal-habal, and they wore bonnets and jackets riding in tandem.”
“ The neighbors also said they have been sighting the two men in the area. These hired killers have never been stopped by local authorities,” added Calunsag.
It can be recalled that on March 22, Trillanes and his group of about 300 protesters also led the picket rally in front of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau office in Caraga under then regional director Roger de Dios to demand for the immediate implementation of the court’s temporary environmental protection order issued against one mining company operating in Surigao del Sur.
Asked about his comment on the threats and harassment received by anti-mining advocates in Caraga, De Dios answered, saying:
“I don’t have any idea about death threats, ako pa siguro ang delikado because I am not from Caraga ( I should be the one on danger because I am not from Caraga). I just want to uphold responsible mining but not mere accusations.”
A native of Cebu, De Dios was “relieved as MGB-Caraga director effective May 15” after serving there since September 2012 due to another mining issue in Nonoc Island in Surigao city. He however said he is ready to face any investigation on said reported mining issue.