The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed regarding the killing of an anti-mining activist in Compostela Valley, Mindanao on 3 January, 2014. No adequate police enquiry has yet taken place and none of the perpetrators have been arrested. The incident took place after the victim assisted in demanding compensation from the Apex Mining Company for losses and damages caused during the recent typhoon as a result of its operations.
CASE NARRATIVE: (According to information received from Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights -KARAPATAN-)
On 3 January, 2014, Marcelo Monterona was engaged in fixing his multicab vehicle. At around 11 a.m., he went to Km. 11 on-board his motorcycle to borrow a sparkplug ring from his friend Edgardo Sedillo, a bakery owner. Sedillo’s bakery is about 600 meters from Monterona’s residence. While waiting for Sedillo, Monterona noticed seven army soldiers in uniform at a neighbourhood store across the street. After Monterona got the sparkplug ring, he returned to his house to continue fixing the multicab.
At around 12:00 noon, Monterona tested the multicab on the road in front of his house. He was some 13 meters from his house when two unidentified men, aboard an XRM motorcycle, stopped near the driver’s seat of the multicab. Witnesses said the gunman went straight to the driver’s seat and shot Monterona with a .45 caliber pistol, hitting him on the left side of his mouth. He tried to crawl out of the vehicle through the passenger’s side. But the gunman entered the vehicle through the driver’s side door and shot Monterona several times more before speeding away.
Monterona fell out of the vehicle and was rushed to a hospital in Tagum City by his wife and son. Sedillo, who was grazed by a stray bullet in the stomach, was also brought to the hospital.
Monterona was pronounced Dead On Arrival (DOA). Sedillo, who sustained minor injuries, was discharged of the hospital on the same day. From the hospital, Monterona’s remains were brought back to their residence in Purok, Barangay Elizalde, Municipality of Maco.
The following day, on January 4, the Philippine National Police of Mawab arrived at the funeral parlor and examined the remains of Monterona. PO1 Haidan Ajiji stated that Monterona had sustained six gunshot wounds.
Also on the same day, a Quick Response Team (QRT) from Davao City led by Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region arrived (the day after the shooting) to gather additional data on Monterona’s death.
The team recovered a tooth at the driver’s seat. It reported that the right wind shield of the multicab was hit and broken. The right door of the multicab also had two gunshot holes and a splinter at the passenger’s seat. The day before the arrival of the QRT, Monterona’s relatives recovered three empty casings and two .45 caliber slugs near the vehicle.
The witnesses said the person controlling the motorcycle was of medium-built and wore a moustache. The gunman was slim of build and wore a yellow bull cap, yellow-green jacket, and black trekking short pants. His face was covered with handkerchief. The motorcycle had no license plate. Also, neighbors noticed two men at a nearby store, whom they assumed were “spotters” or look-outs.
Monterona was an active council member of Indug Kautawan. He actively participated in national and local campaigns against the large-scale and open-pit mining operations of the Apex Mining Company. Last year, he and other victims of typhoon Pablo/Bopha barricaded the gates of the mining company in Maco, paralyzing its operations. The protesters cited the mining company’s accountability for increasing the vulnerability of the people in Maco when the typhoon hit their communities as a result of its destructive mining operations. Following the protest, Apex agreed to indemnify the victims with PhP3.6 million, 300 sacks of rice, and to rehabilitate local infrastructure and the damaged communities.
Monterona also campaigned for the removal of the 71st Infantry Battalion from the communities, criticized the military’s aerial bombings in the area, and demanding justice for the slain Pedro Tinga, also a member of Indug Kautawan, and other human rights abuses by the military. On December 16-18, 2013, during their barricade and lobbying at the Provincial Capital of Compostela Valley in Nabunturan, he caught a military agent taking pictures of the protesters.
Marcelo Monterona’s assassination comes less than one month after this event!
The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported numerous instances of extrajudicial killings carried out by members of the armed forces of the Philippines, particularly the army. Few, if any have been investigated and to-date, despite overwhelming evidence, few if any, have been brought to trial.
The Apex Mining Co. is largely owned by Mapula Creek Gold Corp, a subsidiary of Crew Gold Corporation based in the United Kingdom; and Mindanao Gold Ltd., a special purpose company formed by Malaysian investment company ASVI.
Please write to the authorities listed below demanding a full enquiry into the extrajudicial killing of Marcelo Monterona. The authorities must also provide protection and compensation to Monterona’s family members.
The Asian Human Rights Commission is writing separate letters to the Rapporteur on Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions and the Special Rapporteur on Situation of Human Rights Defenders