Islanders remember slain environmentalist

Sibuyan Island, ROMBLON – Commemorating the fifth death anniversary of slain anti-mining activist and public servant Armin Rios Marin, friends, relatives, and other advocates gathered in his residence in Sibuyan for a silent reflection and candle-lighting ceremony.

Marin, elected municipal councilor in 2007, only served three months in service after he was shot to death by a mining security officer of Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC) during a picket against researchers commissioned by a mining company.

“The world’s largest nickel mining company BHP Billiton had just signed an off-take agreement with SNPDC and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources approved a special permit to cut more than 70,000 trees; and another company wanted to do a research and scoping for another company – these all prompted Armin to join and lead the picket,” said San Fernando municipal councilor Domingo Marin, father of the slain environmentalist.

After a year, BHP Billiton withdrew its agreement with SNPDC as it failed to secure a Mineral Productions Sharing Agreement (MPSA) on top of the killing controversy. The special cutting of trees was also suspended by the DENR.

“However, SNPDC did not stop even after the killing of my son and the opposition of the people to their project – it has successfully got an MPSA through the rights of Altai Philippines Mining Corporation but eventually suspended by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau due to lack of social acceptability. We shall continue defending our island,” continued Marin.

Last week, a special mass was held in España Elementary School to also commemorate his death. More than 1,000 students attended the said mass.

Sibuyanons have chosen to silently commemorate the death of Armin Rios Marin while those who seek to be elected next year are lining up to file their certificates of candidacy.

“We reflect as we learn our lessons from the past – Armin taught us how public service truly are for the general welfare thus protecting our rights to a healthful and balanced ecology,” said Elizabeth Ibanez, member of Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE).

Ibanez believed that it is now high time to choose candidates which have heart for the environment because “at the end of the day, all of us will always rely on the bounties of nature for our health, food, shelter – for survival, especially in the times of climate crisis”.

“Leaders who are able to stand by their principles are only a handful and Armin was one of them. We will continue to support political champions for the environment because they are the ones who will secure our future’s survival,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM)

Garganera reminded registered voters to choose candidates with clear and genuine platform for the environment especially on climate change and mining. He added that together with other environmental organizations, they will release a list of candidates with distinct and serious plan for environmental protection and preservation.

Alyansa Tigil Mina is an alliance of mining-affected communities and their support groups of NGOs/POs and other civil society organizations who are opposing the aggressive promotion of large-scale mining in the Philippines. The alliance is currently pushing for a moratorium on mining, revocation of Executive Order 270-A, repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 and passage of the AMMB. (30)

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