Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez has condemned the killing of an anti-mining environmentalist and human rights advocate working in partnership with his diocese to oppose the development of the giant Tampakan mine.
"The diocese of Marbel does not tolerate any form of repression, especially through extrajudicial killings," Bishop Gutierrez said following the killing of Eliezer "Boy" Billanes.
"Of all his affiliations, Boy Billanes is well known for his stand against any form of development aggression, especially the presence of the large scale mining company in Tampakan," the bishop pointed out.
Tampakan town in southern Mindanao island's South Cotabato province is the site of a copper gold project owned and operated by global mining group Xstrata. Marbel diocese, bearing the former name of Koronadal City, covers the entire province.
Initial police reports say Billanes, 46, died after being shot at 4pm on March 9 by two men riding a motorcycle in Koronadal's commercial district.
At the time of his death, he led the opposition to the Tampakan copper gold project as chairman of a regional alliance, Socssargends Alliance for Genuine Development.
The statement, co-signed by Oblates of Notre Dame Sr Pacita Babiera, diocesan justice and peace desk coordinator, described Billanes as a long time "formidable partner of the Social Action Centre in its advocacies for environment, human rights, justice and peace."
Sr Babiera told UCA News that Billanes was instrumental in the implementation of the diocesan Social Action Centre (SAC)'s landscape environment program in the province's forests, mountains and valleys.
"But most of all he stood against mining in Tampakan," the nun said, adding that his untimely death directly impacts SAC programs on the environment "because he was an active partner of the Church here." Her justice and peace desk is part of the centre.
The Tampakan mine is operated Xstrata Copper based in Brisbane in partnership with Melbourne based Indophil Resources.
Church condemns activist partner's murder (UCA News)
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