Slain anti-mining activist knew threat to his life, says wife

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/16 April) — The wife of the anti-mining activist slain Tuesday in Pantukan, Compostela Valley said her husband felt he was already targeted even before a triggerman had come to their house and  shot him in the back, the human rights group Karapatan said.

Ricky Manrique, chair of the environment group Panalipdan, did not go to the March 25 public scoping of the mining firm Nadecor, which partnered with the US-based Russel Mining for a 1,663- hectare mining project in the area, because he felt the ”situation was already getting too hot for him,” his wife Amelia told Karapatan.

According to the wife’s account, the gunman of about 25 to 30 years old, descended to their house along the Pantukan highway and shot her husband pointblank while he was answering a call on a radio receiver.

The man did not cover his face and was in civilian clothes, which made the family believe he was not from the area.  Three more lookouts were waiting for the triggerman aboard two TMX motorcycles, color blue and red, parked along the highway.

When the triggerman went back to his companions, the wife overheard one of them asking the hitman about Manrique’s condition.

”It was a fatal shot,” the triggerman replied.

The wife told Karapatan his husband, who had protested the entry of large-scale foreign mining operations in the area already felt the threats days before he died. He did not appear in the March 25 public scoping of the mining firm Nadecor and just allowed other officers to go because he sensed his life was already in danger.

Days before he died Manrique got information that he had a warrant of arrest at the Nabunturan Regional Trial Court but when somebody went there to check, there was none.

”He felt the situation was already getting too hot so he just sent his vice chair to the public scoping,” Karapatan quoted Amelia as having said.

Manrique died from three gunshot wounds, two on his chest and another one that pierced through his right ear and exited through the left.

He was the chair of the environment group Panalipdan in Pantukan, a barangay kagawad in Napnapan village, a member of Anakpawis, and a leader of various groups of small-scale miners actively opposing the entry of big foreign mining firms in the area. (Germelina Lacorte/MindaNews)