Mining company guards shoot small-scale miners PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 August 2012 14:19

The press statement released through a local daily by the TVI-Resource Development Inc. Phils. (TVI-RD) mining company on the two shooting incidents between its guards and some small-scale miner-workers which transpired in the evening of July 25, 2012 in Barangay Depore, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur contradicts the result of the joint investigation made by the Zamboanga del Sur Police Provincial Office and the 1st Infantry (Tabak) Division, Philippine Army, according to the Army Tabak Division.

It can be recalled, according to the Army Tabak Division,  that the TVI-RD issued a public statement that its security guards were attacked by an armed group of the small-scale miner-workers in two successive incidents about 7 and  9 p.m., respectively, which prompted the former to retaliate in self-defense. Further, the company reportedly claimed that there was an actual exchange of fire between the two parties.

However, investigation disclosed that during the first incident, members of the pseudo-organization employed by the said mining company to execute dirty works commonly known among miners in Balabag area as “K9” were confiscating the containers of diesel fuel carried by more or less 49 small-scale miner-laborers (cargadores) who were just passing by the TVI-RD manned checkpoint in the vicinity of Purok 7, SitioBalabag of the said barangay. When Wilbert Catampungan, an unarmed small-scale miner-laborer, refused to yield his container, Godofredo D. JungoyJr, a “K9” member, shot him to death with a caliber 45 pistol. The victim was rushed to Bayog Medical Clinic but was later pronounced dead. A criminal case of homicide has been filed against the suspect before the Provincial Prosecutor in Pagadian City.

In the succeeding incident, it was found out that the TVI-RD security guards deliberately opened fire on more or less 30 unarmed Subanen small-scale miner-laborers who were just passing by the vicinity of Kamagong Security Post in Sitio Balabag carrying containers of diesel fuel. The incident resulted in the wounding of Royroy A. Dalangon and Jumar D. Tumalis, a nephew of Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte tribal chieftain Isis Guilingan.

Police Sr. Insp. Eilen Sardon Fermindoza, chief of the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch in Pagadian City, said that there was no actual gunfight between the two parties. Majority of the firearms used by the TVI-RD security guards were 12-gauge shotgun and, surprisingly, only spent cartridges of the same firearm have been found at the crime scene. Furthermore, all the involved guards’ firearms yielded positive on gun-powder residue upon examination.

She also stated that in an armed engagement, the normal course of human experience dictates that casualties are expected from both sides. In both incidents, only the small-scale miner-laborers Dalangon and Tumalis were wounded.

The 53rd Infantry Battalion first responders in the area led by Capt. Rafael L. Balincamaya, confirmed that all the spent cartridges they recovered were indeed from a 12-gauge shotgun, just a few feet from the security post where the alleged armed small-scale miner-laborers were situated.

He further stated that that he did not find any bullet holes at the said outpost which denies the allegation of the TVI-RD that the small-scale miner-laborers opened fire on the security guards.

Using the pieces of evidence gathered to include accounts from several witnesses and sworn statements of the complainants, cases of two counts frustrated murder and six for attempted murder have been filed in a local court against the seven security guards of TVI-RD who are all under the Big JR private security agency.

Meanwhile, the Indigenous People of Bayog and Sindangan condemned the illegal actions of the TVI-RD management that resulted in the unjust killing and wounding of the Subanen small-scale miner-laborers.

Maj. Gen. Ricardo Rainier G. Cruz III, Army Tabak commander, said that the truth shall always prevail. “In the spirit of Bayanihan, we will always support whatever investigation will be undertaken by any investigative bodies such as our PNP counterparts when needed. Every Tabak trooper should remain vigilant and at all times be protectors of the people in our communities, ”he said.