On All Saint’s Day while the people of the town of Sta. Cruz, Zambales are about to rest, an anti-mining activist was confronted along the national road by the a local chieftain together with the town’s police chief and members of the Philippine Army.
The anti-mining activist Ms. Lea Codilla was waiting for a bus ride at around 9PM when six (6) vehicles belonging to the Philippine Army, the Police Unit of Sta. Cruz, Zambales and the Ambulance of Barangay Lucapon South carrying the local chieftain arrived. Barangay is the smallest political unit in the Philippines.
Around 15 armed men and the barangay chieftain went down of their vehicles and surrounded Lea. The local chieftain, Mr. Guillermo Ebanculla without introducing himself, invited Ms. Codilla to come with them to the barangay hall. Lea asked the chieftain of his violation. The chieftain replied, “We talk about it in the barangay hall.”. Ms. Codilla refused and challenged the chieftain to file a case in court if she has committed any crime.
The Police Chief as well as a member of the Philippine Army also chided Lea who refused to budge in. When Lea told them that what they are doing is not only psychological harassment to her but to the people of the village as well, they left.
Three weeks ago, a missionary priest in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, Southern Philippines, Father Fausto Tentorio who was noted for helping the poor and the campaign against mining was shot and killed by a motorcycle riding masked assassin. Last year, Dr. Ortega, a dentist who was very vocal against mining in Palawan was also shot dead.
In the recent years, scores of anti-mining leaders and activists were also shot to death. Most of these cases are still unsolved.
Benito E. Molino