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Environmentalist ambushed and shot

Victim is passionate anti-mining campaigner

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • October 30, 2012
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An environmental activist was shot in the chest yesterday in a suspected assassination attempt in Carmen town, in Mindanao's Surigao del Sur province.

Unidentified gunmen wounded Dr. Isidro Olan, executive director of the Lovers of Nature Foundation Inc., while he was driving home, reports from non-government groups in the area said.

Police said they found one empty shell each from a .45-caliber pistol and a .22 caliber pistol, and three empty shotgun shells.

Olan is known to be a passionate environment defender who opposes large-scale mining and illegal logging activities in the province.

"We ask for everyone’s prayers for Dr. Olan’s immediate recovery and for justice to be swiftly exacted upon the assassins and their clients," said Fr. Oliver Castor, spokesperson of Task Force Justice for Environment Defenders.

Olan and his group were set to launch a voter education campaign next month to promote an environmental agenda in next year's mid-term elections.

"This latest attack... produces a chilling effect to environmental advocates," Castor said.

Clemente Bautista of the Defend Patrimony Alliance, an anti-mining network, blamed the "militarization" of Surigao del Sur province for the attempt to kill Olan.

He said the deployment of government troops in the area to protect mining investments "have brought a spate of not only human rights violations but also the violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples."

Bautista called for the immediate pullout of troops in the province as "an important step to the quelling of human rights violations."

Castor, meanwhile, noted that 61 environmental activists have already been killed in the country since 2001.

"There could be no other motivation to assassinate Olan than his staunch opposition to ecologically destructive projects in their areas," said Castor.

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