Friday, November 30, 2007

Position Paper: Martyrdom of Environmental Activist COUNCILOR ARMIN R. MARIN

November 2007 Position Paper

As we remember and pray for our beloved dead, let us also remember and pray for those who fell in defense of Mother Earth, our God-given life source, and who died that we may live.

Let us especially remember the latest casualty, Councilor Armin R. Marin of the paradise island of Sibuyan. Just a month ago, Armin, standing up for his people’s right to survive in their own land, was shot at close range while leading a protest against the Romblon Nickel Project by a group with links to Australian-based BHP Billiton, the world’s third largest mining giant.

ARMIN MARIN, town councilor, who spent most of his life in the service of his beautiful island home, Sibuyan, in Romblon, epitomizes the public official that the Filipino people yearn for, a servant leader who cannot be corrupted nor intimidated. Armin’s genuine commitment to public service began when he became a kagawad of his own barangay, Espana. Armin also engaged in the promotion of social development in Sibuyan through his dedicated work with non-government organizations (NGOs) such as the Philippine chapter of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Fundacion Santiago. His active involvement in the Sibuyan Aton Manggad (SAM), the Sibuyanons Against Mining movement, now Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment (Sibuyan ISLE) manifested his conviction about the need to unite concerned stakeholders to protect the environment and indigenous people. In addition, Armin served as one of the lay leaders of their Parish Pastoral Council.

ARMIN MARIN personifies stewardship of creation anchored on faith in God and the knowledge that all living things depend on the environment for survival.

ARMIN MARIN embodies the Filipino people, oppressed and deprived of their patrimony that has been given instead by our leaders to foreign interests on a golden platter.

ARMIN MARIN exemplifies the patriot and human rights activist who is not afraid to die so that his beloved land and people may have a chance to live.

His death, last Oct. 3, at the hands of a security guard of a foreign-affiliated mining company, brings into sharp focus the struggle of local communities against foreign mining. Sibuyan is a veritable paradise, with the densest forest in the world, the cleanest river in the country and a treasure trove of flora and fauna found only in the area. Mining such a land is mindless and yet, the administration gave the go-signal not just to one but thirteen active mining sites! Five special cutting permits have been given to clear forest land for mining activity and for 69,709 trees to be cut. With climate change upon us and the world needing all the carbon sinks it can plant to mitigate the deadly effects, why destroy our own carbon sinks and precious fresh water sources, our forests? Why turn Eden into a wasteland? Why force a biodiversity superstar to become a prostitute? Worse, a prostitute without earnings, because all the money goes to the pimps?

Destruction of the environment strikes at the very core of a nation’s life because the environment is our lifeline to survival. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) called mining and minerals her new engine of growth. Yes, an engine of destructive tumor-like growth. A tumor grows by destroying the healthy cells around it. Destructive industries like mining grow by destroying the clean, fertile lands and life-giving water around it. And if acid mine drainage (AMD) occurs, the destruction via contamination is irreversible.

Sibuyan is only the latest of many biodiversity edens in the Philippines destroyed or threatened with destruction by mining. Mountains have been flattened, forests denuded, ground water depleted, soil and water bodies contaminated, and communities dislocated and deprived of livelihood. The people have resisted the onslaught of powerful foreign mining companies in vain, because the very government sworn to protect its people is serving the foreign interests instead, often with the use of the military.

Armin is the 20th environmental activist killed while protesting a mining project in the country since 2001. How many more Filipinos will be killed, defending their right to life and the protection of their patrimony in their own country, against foreign interests supported by the Philippine government? Armin and the other environmentalists who died protecting their oppressed land and people from destructive mining activities are heroes. They are martyrs, victims of mining companies favored by the government over the people it is sworn to serve.

We, the member organizations and networks of the GREEN CONVERGENCE for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy condemn the killing of Councilor Armin Marin and deplore the deafening silence of the GMA Administration over the tragedy.

  • We demand swift justice for Armin Marin and the other mining activists who died before him.
  • We join the clamor of the local people of Sibuyan for the pull out of SNPDC mining project and the scrapping of all plans to approve Pelican’s application for a Mineral Production and Sharing Agreement (MPSA) mining permit.
  • We call on DENR to revoke previous DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes’s clearance permit which allowed the cutting of thousands of trees located in the buffer zone of a declared national park.
GREEN CONVERGENCE rejects the unjust, destructive, anti-environment and anti-people economic policies that go against morality, human rights and love of country. We demand that our Philippine government pursue instead, an economic development paradigm that is anchored on environmental protection and people development and empowerment to fight poverty and hunger. If our government would only listen to the voice of the marginalized sectors of Philippine society, Armin and the other martyrs for environmental protection and human rights would then not have died in vain. We take up their anguished cries:

Stop the killing of the defenders of our land and people!

Stop the rape and destruction of our last edens!

Stop the plunder of our patrimony!

Stop the dislocation of our rural communities and the deprivation of their human rights to livelihood, food and life!

Scrap the anti-Filipino, pro-foreigner Mining Act of 1995 and enact a law that makes mining a nationalized, selective, integrated and downstream industry that responds to our people’s needs and respects the integrity of our country’s fragile ecosystem, ensuring our survival.

Start the research and development programs that will realize the potential of our more valuable, renewable natural resources to spur the real, sustainable development of our richly endowed but ruthlessly exploited country for the benefit of our long-suffering people.


The GREEN CONVERGENCE for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy
(Green Convergence) includes organizations, coalitions, and networks such as the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), No to GMOs Coalition, Anti-Laiban Dam Campaign, EcoWaste Coalition, and the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA (MJJ) Coalition.

Contact information:

Dr. Angelina P. Galang
for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy (Green Convergence)
c\o: Environmental Studies Institute (ESI),
Miriam College, Katipunan Road, Quezon City
Phone numbers: 920-5093; 580-5400 ext. 3560

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