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Anti-mining activist goes missing after arrest

Philippine impunity continues to grow, says alliance

Joe Torres, Manila

August 26, 2013

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An anti-mining activist has been missing since Wednesday after he was seen being arrested by police in the northern province of Nueva Vizcaya.

The tribal people's group Katribu said 34-year-old Bryan Epa was last seen being forced into a police car in Bayombong town on the evening of August 21.

Epa has been active in resisting the entry of Australian mining company Royalco Philippines Inc., manning barricades to prevent mining equipment from entering their concession.

The Indigenous People’s Alliance expressed concern over Epa’s disappearance, especially with "still many unresolved cases of enforced disappearances among activists."

"The climate of impunity is a breeding ground for grave human rights violations especially of those perceived as ‘enemies of the state,’ including those resisting mining operations," said Piya Macliing Malayao, spokesperson of the alliance.

Malayao said there have been 35 extra-judicial killings of indigenous people in the past three years. Most of these killings, she said, were done in the context of community resistance against mines, plantations, or dams. 

“Leaders and members of local people’s organizations and their families are the usual targets of liquidation by state forces and paramilitary groups.”

She said the police are liable for the disappearance of Epa because he was last seen in their custody. 

“Given the human rights situation in the Philippines and the brutality shown by the arresting police,” Malayao said “it bodes ill for his fate.” 

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