Security guard killed in Tampakan mines site

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/18 June) — A security guard for the Tampakan copper-gold project of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. was killed in a gun attack, a company official confirmed on Monday.

The security guard’s killing came less than a month after the shooting of another security guard within the mines development site that resulted to his injury last May 22.

John Arnaldo, Sagittarius Mines Mines external communications and media relations manager, did not identify the security guard killed at around 10 a.m. last Sunday in Sitio Lafla in Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

“I confirm that a security guard employed by our security service provider Catena was fatally shot by an unidentified individual,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and [had] extend[ed] our condolences to the victim’s family,” he added.

Arnaldo gave no further details, saying the Kiblawan police have been advised of the incident and their investigation is underway.

A source said a disgruntled resident killed the victim allegedly due to Sagittarius Mines’ continued conduct of a survey or consultation in their community.

In January, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources rejected the application of Sagittarius Mines to secure an environmental compliance certificate for the Tampakan copper-gold project.

The mining company has appealed the decision but the DENR maintained its position.

The Environment department thrashed the ECC due to the open-pit ban imposed by the South Cotabato provincial government.

Juan Miguel Cuna, national director of the Environmental Management Bureau, an attached DENR agency, had advised Sagittarius Mines to “refrain from undertaking any development activity in the areas mentioned in the application for ECC until the same is issued in your favor, including permits from concerned government agencies.”

Arnaldo insisted the mining company is not violating the ECC order, given their activity that apparently led to the tragic incident involving the dead security guard.

“The ECC denial [order] only prevents construction-related activities. It does not include consultation-related activities,” he said in a text message.

Datu Tungko Saikol, EMB Region 12 director, also said the ECC denial issued to Sagittarius Mines covers only construction-related activities.

Sagittarius Mines has identified security as a key issue in the Tampakan project, touted as the largest known undeveloped copper-gold deposit in Southeast Asia.

In the 77-page 2011 Sustainability Report launched here late last month, Peter Forrestal, Sagittarius Mines president, noted that the company faced significant security challenges last year.

He cited the deadly ambush of three employees of a supplier company in March and the killing of SMI superintendent Cris Bual in September. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)