Source Front Line Defenders
On 30 January 2016, three days after after being shot, human rights defender Ms Teresita Navacilla died in a hospital in Tagum City, in the Southern Mindanao region of the Philippines. Her assailants have not been identified yet.
Recently, the human rights defender spoke out against the launching of the King-king mining project in Pantukan. Environmental groups have warned that the project will adversely effect the livelihood and health of communities in the region, and threaten its biodiversity and marine and coastal ecosystems.
On 30 January 2016, Teresita Navacilla died in hospital in Tagum City as a result of the gunshot wounds she had received three days earlier. On 27 January 2016, two unidentified armed men attacked the human rights defender in King-king village, in the Compostela Valley. One of the perpetrators entered the human rights defender’s store in Purok Bardown and shot her twice, before both men drove away on motorcycle.
The attack was reportedly perpetrated by soldiers from the 46th Infantry Battalion, which has been assigned to secure the King-king mining project. Inhabitants of the Compostela Valley report that the soldiers have arrested and assaulted members of the indigenous people of Mansaka and other civilians from the region that have opposed the mining project. Mr Seigfred Tubalado, commander of the 46th Infantry Battalion, has denied any involvement of his soldiers in the killing of Teresita Navacilla. To this date, the police have failed to provide any official information concerning the attack on the human rights defender.
It is alleged that the attack on Teresita Navacilla was an attempt to silence her opposition to the King-king mining project. The project is being carried out in the Puntakan region by two large-scale international companies, Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR) and St. Augustine Gold and Copper Limited (SAGCL). The King-king tenement is the second largest copper and gold deposit in the Philippines. Under an agreement signed in 1992 with the Government of the Philippines, NADECOR received the exclusive right to explore, develop and exploit minerals within the area comprising the King-king deposit. In Spring 2016 NADECOR, in partnership with SAGCL, it is planning to begin mining activities. It also plans to scale-up its operations in the near future, leading them to cover 1,656 hectares in the Pantukan region.
The killing of Teresita Navacilla occurred in the context of a series of incidents of assault, intimidation and harassment involving leaders of anti-mining organisations in the Compostela Valley province. The death of the human rights defender brings the number of extrajudicial killings in the region of Southern Mindanao to four in the month of January.
Front Line Defenders roundly condemns the killing of Teresita Navacilla, which it believes was solely motivated by her legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of environmental rights and rights of indigenous communities inhabiting the Compostela Valley. Front Line Defenders also reiterates its extreme concern for the growing number of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders in the country and the languishing of these cases in impunity.