According to the environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao Region (SMR), one of their leaders — Fernando “Dodong” Sarmiento — has been brutally murdered.
Francis Morales, the spokesperson for Panalipdan-SMR, said that “Dodong Sarmiento sustained 5 gun-shot wounds that resulted to his death.” Sarmiento is the first environmentalist killed after the formation of the aptly titled Investment Defense Force (IDF) started under the Arroyo administration.
“We condemn in the strongest term the brutal killing of Dodong Sarmiento, who is known for leading the rural folks of New Bataan in calling for the stoppage of the operations of PhilCo Mining Corporation, the planned exploration of other mining corporations and mining-instigated militarization under the command of 10th Infantry Division, citing as reasons for their resistance on the destruction that large-scale mining operations brought on people’s livelihoods and local ecosystems”, Morales stressed.
Under the Arroyo regime, 24 environmentalists have been killed in opposition to mining projects based on the documentation of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.
“This is a typical mode of operation of the military in implementing the Oplan Bantay Laya 2 in the rural areas of Compostela Valley wherein activist leaders were maligned and demonized first before being killed”, Morales furthered.
“The environmental group believes that Sarmiento was killed by military elements due to his advocacies. Last 16 July 2008, Sarmiento was interrogated by the elements of 28th Infantry Batallion, Philippine Army (IBPA) under Lt. Wendel Ariola for his active involvement in environmental campaigns and was accused as rebel supporter. Then on 22 July 2008, the military posted on its website falsely claiming that Sarmiento was a rebel surrenderee”, Morales divulged.
Sarmiento, 39, was Secretary General of Panalipdan-New Bataan and a anti-large scale mining activist.