TVIRD opponent shot dead in Siocon; firm says guard acted in ‘self-defense’

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/08 March) — A small-scale miner in Mount Canatuan of Siocon town, Zamboanga del Norte was gunned down 12:30 p.m. Sunday allegedly by a security guard of a mining company there.

Rudy Segovia, leader of small-scale miners opposed to the mining operations of TVI Resource Development Company, was shot five times and died on the spot.

The suspect, identified only as Omongia and employed by the Nemeses Security Agency in Ipil, Sibugay Province, has accordingly “surrendered to Timuay Jose “Boy” Anoy, chieftain and administrator of the 8,213-hectare Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) area of the Subanons of Siocon.

Recardo A. Avancena, a resident community facilitator for TVIRD said that Segovia asked the company to sprinkle water on the barangay road adjacent to their residences to hold down dust while company-owned vehicles would pass by.

When his request went unheeded Segovia blocked the road with wooden chairs leading to a quarrel between him and the guard which ended violently, Avancena said.

Omongia reportedly shot Segovia four times in the body and once in the head.

Daniel Castillo, executive director of the DIOPIM (Dipolog, Ipil, Ozamiz, Pagadian, Iligan, Marawi) Committee on Mining Issues said that Segovia’s remains will be brought to Guipos, Zamboanga del Sur where it will be buried.

He said Segovia’s family will file a case against the suspect.

In a statement, TVIRD said the security guard was just acting “in self-defense” when he shot Segovia.

TVIRD admitted that Segovia was part of a group of “holdover” small-scale miners who operated in Canatuan before the company started its operations in 2004.

“Despite lengthy negotiations including generous offers of compensation, safety concerns, and repeated requests for Segovia to vacate an area near the mine pit that he was unlawfully occupying, he had been ‘defying the Subanons’ even threatening the latter with bodily harm,” TVIRD said.

“Segovia and four other holdover SSMs tried to block six dump trucks of MSKS, a trucking contractor of TVIRD which were on their way to the mine pit when they were stopped by Segovia’s group using wooden bench and stool to block the road,” it added.

The company said Segovia drew his bolo after an argument ensued between him and Omongia.

The company also said that they were “negotiating with Segovia and three families who all claim to be part of the old SSM community in Canatuan.”

Jun Urot, member of the National Council Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas, Inc., pointed out that 54 small-scale miners have been picketing in Canatuan since February 10, 2011 to demand compensation for their agricultural lands mined by TVIRD.

Carino Antequisa of Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) called the incident the most violent one involving TVIRD and its opponents.

He said Segovia’s death was not just a simple dispute but is related to years of opposition by small-scale miners to TVIRD’s open-pit mining operations. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)