features from SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES:
(Without Fear or Favor)
Saturday, July 28, 2012
By JOAN GARCIA
ILOCOS — Political activists and journalists are endangered species in the country. With the renewed push of the Aquino government for the encouragement of foreign, large-scale mining operations in the country coupled with the president’s order for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to protect mining companies, environmental, anti-mining advocates have been added to the list of targets of attacks of state security forces.
Donna Rabang Peta, convenor of the Peoples Solidarity Against Large-scale and Destructive Mining in Ilocos Norte (PSALM-IN) and secretariat member of the Defend Ilocos Against Mining Plunder (Defend Ilocos), is the latest environmental advocate to be subjected to threats, harassment and intimidation due to her work.
Since late last year, Rabang Peta has been monitored by the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Ilocos Norte with supposed orders coming from Provincial Director Marlou Chan due to her involvement in the growing anti-mining campaign of the people of the province.
The latest incident happened last June 20, 2012 when Ms. Rabang Peta was included in a police blotter in the office of the PNP in Dumalneg, Ilocos Norte.
At around 4:00 p.m. of that day, Dumalneg Municipal Councilor Maylin Santos received a letter signed by chief of police PSI Freddie Evangelista inviting her to his office because several issues have reached him and Association of Barangay Council (ABC) President Faustino Tomas and that they wanted to clarify it with Santos.
Santos asked the letter bearer PO2 Eddie Mar Yadao what the problem is. Yadao explained that the PNP received reports about her supposed activities and trips outside of Dumalneg and that an activity of the New People’s Army (NPA) was purportedly conducted in her house.
Yadao also explained that their “big boss” wanted to know why Rabang Peta constantly goes to her house. Yadao reportedly said Rabang Peta is an activist and an organizer of anti-mining activities in Adams, Ilocos Norte. The “big boss” that Yadao referred to is Dumalneg Mayor Francisco Espiritu.
Santos questioned Yadao why her activities were being monitored and probed. She also explained that the activity conducted at their house is a discussion on organic farming and proceeded to show Yadao the visual aids they are using.
After the incident, she received a sketchy report from a reliable source that there was a police blotter, referring Rabang Peta as “Ka Donna” and described her as an organizer of anti-mining advocates.
According to Rabang Peta, she is frightened by the continuous threat against her life especially when the news of the blotter and surveillance reached her. “Our democratic space as environmental advocates, the places where we want to reach out to and share the cause and destructive effects of mining in the province, is decreasing because of these threats. This harassments and intimidations curtails the right of the people to organize and peaceable assembly,” Rabang Peta added.
Asked why she is being targeted, Rabang Peta explained that the issue of mining in the province is something that the people have always been vigilant about, the anti-mining activities and mobilizations have made the pro-mining politicians angry because their vested interests are affected. In Dumalneg, for example, Rabang Peta’s presence has been consistently questioned by Mayor Espiritu and that he even warned other Mayors regarding Rabang Peta’s anti-mining stance..... MORE
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