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Killing of anti-mining activists in Compostela, Mindanao, Philippines


On October 13, 2016, there was a new victim of the mining industry in Campostela Valley: Joselito “Anoy” Pasaporte, 32, a member of the youth arm of the environmental group Panalipdan, which is campaigning against operations of the Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corp. and against military units accused of protecting the firm and of occupying communities and schools in the province. Anoy Pasaporte’s death followed that of Jimmy Saypan, secretary general of the Compostela Valley Farmers Association, two days earlier. Saypan, 48, was shot in the stomach by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Barangay New Visayas in Montevista town Monday afternoon and died at a hospital in Tagum City, Davao del Norte the following day. Like Pasaporte, Saypan was also prominent in the campaign against Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corp. and military abuses.

According to the environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, this was the second attempt on his life in the past year. The CFA (farmers' association) has been opposing the entry of the Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corp., which the group says has been undertaking exploration operations despite an expired permit, and has also accused the military of allegedly protecting the firm and committing atrocities. Among the alleged abuses were the strafing of the home of CFA chairman Bello Tindasan, the attempt on the life of his son and the murder of another peasant leader, Luis Carbajosa, in April last year. In Compostela region but in different mining project (King-King, copper and gold) in February 2016, the activist Teresita Navacilla was killed [1]. There is a context of politically motivated armed violence in the region, and military repression. According to KMP sources, Jimmy Saipan was a leader of CFA staunchly opposing the entry of Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corp (AGPET), a large mining company owned by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) that will landgrab 12,000 hectares of tribal lands mostly planted with rice and banana in Compostela’s Ngan village. Saipan was also a veteran of the annual Manilakbayan caravan. In January 2010, he joined the first-ever Peoples Caravan for land and peace from Mindanao to Manila joined by hundreds of farmers and indigenous people.

In 2015 (before the change of government in 2016) Karlos Manlupig,, had explained that both the local government and farmers said Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation's mining exploration will do more harm than good.  Bello Tindasan, chairperson of the Compostela Farmers Association, had said that the mining exploration permit for the Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation (Agpet) covered 12,444 hectares in Compostela town. The mining exploration, Tindasan said, would affect a huge portion of the ancestral land of the Mandaya and Mangwanon tribes. "Barangay Ngan of Compostela, Compostela Valley, has a mountainous area consisting of Purok 20 to Purok 28, all of which is covered by Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) No. R11-NEW-0204-019 and covers some 15,000 plus hectares of the Mandaya and Mangwanon Tribe," Tindasan said.   In June 2015 it was reported that more than 200 farmers and lumads from the mining-affected communities in Purok 20-28 of Brgy. Ngan, Compostela were in their sixth day of kampuhan-picket in front of MGB XI regional office in Davao City (as of June 30). They said they will not leave MGB XI until the exploration permit of Agusan Petroleum & Mineral Corporation is cancelled. They already submitted their opposition to Agpet to the Provincial Board of Compostela Valley last April 4 through a petition letter signed by 1000+ residents of nine (9) affected puroks of Brgy. Ngan including all the purok leaders'. MGB XI Director Engr. Edilberto Arreza gave assurance he would recommend such cancellation in a dialogue Monday June 29, 2015, with the leaders of the Compostela Farmers Association who is leading the mass protest, but he put the burden on the protesting farmers and lumads to show there is enough evidence for such cancellation. The environmental group Panalipdan asked: is the series of protests (barricades, pickets, now kampuhan) plus the escalating human rights violations due to militarization not enough evidence for Engr. Arreza?  Since June 18, 2015 farmers had mounted a human barricade to stop the transport of machinery and equipment of the corporation in a major road in Barangay Ngan. Tindasan said that the village council had already issued a “Resolution Petitioning the Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation to Pull-out in Barangay Ngan, Compostela, Compostela Valley Province” on March 20, which was followed by a resolution to cancel the exploration permit issued by the town council, and approved by Mayor Lema Bolo. "The said resolution  was signed by Compostela Mayor, Hon. Lema P. Bolo and  declared AGPET to get out from our ancestral lands," Tindasan said. Despite the resolutions, the company allegedly continued its plans to explore the mineral resources in the area.

 Tindasan explained that the villagers fear the adverse effects of any extractive economic activities in their town as it may cause another Typhoon Pablo-like disaster. "Being survivors of Typhoon Pablo (of 2012), CFA believes that AgPet will destroy their forests and mountains which will eventually result to massive floods," Tindasan said. He added that they also fear that mining activities will displace at least 1,200 families within the area covered by the mining exploration permit. According to a publication of the Panalipdan-SMR Davao-based environmental campaign and education center dealing with threats to the environment and the people in Southern Mindanao Region [2], the general background to the agitation and to the killings is as follows: "In the years since the Mining Act of 1995 was signed into law, the Filipino people experienced plunder of resources, land grabbing, massive destruction of the environment and ecosystem, human rights violations and loss of traditional livelihoods. Indigenous peoples rights to their ancestral lands and self-determination are grossly violated. Under the present law, the mining industry has not significantly contributed to economic growth and development. The mining industry’s contribution is a measly 0.72% to the gross domestic product (GDP). The mining industry only employs an average of 200,000 workers annually or 0.43% of the total employment in our country, contrary to the government claims that this industry will generate jobs. The Mining Act of 1995 opened the floodgates for the surge of mining projects in ancestral lands. It threatens not only the land and resources, but the very survival of indigenous communities affected. To date, there exist at least 712 approved mining applications covering 967,530.86 hectares of the country’s total land area. Of this, 251 applications covering 532,368.36 hectares (55% of the total land area approved for mining) are areas occupied by IP communities.

 Mine-affected communities suffer displacement from their homes and livelihood, destruction of their water systems and resources areas. Worse, the culprits of the biggest mine disasters, such as Philex, Lepanto, Marcopper, Lafayette and Citinickel, remain unpunished and continue to operate. The sum of all the social and environmental destruction is not commensurate to the miniscule revenues the country gained from this industry. The IPs (indigenous populations) together with the farmers, fisher folks, workers, women, church people, academe, youth, and students, consistently call for the scrapping of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Information dissemination campaign and protest actions such as petition and signature campaign, caravans, picket rallies, putting up road barricades, placing placards along mountain trails, and directly confronting mining corporations through dialogues and lobby for a new pro-people mining law continue. Local Government Units (LGU) passed resolutions restricting mining in their localities. Indigenous peoples based on their traditional systems entered “pagta,” or peace pacts, and others waged pangayaw or tribal war to defend their ancestral lands against the mining corporations in Northern Luzon and in Mindanao. Violation of human rights such as extra-judicial killings, different forms of threats, harassments, and the filing of trumped-up charges against leaders and community members are rampant in areas with mining interests. In this context, we, the indigenous peoples, peasants, workers, and human rights advocates, environmentalists, students, youth, women, artists, media, church people, academe, professionals, businessmen, government leaders and patriotic Filipinos call for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. We also call for the enactment of a mining bill that embodies the Filipino people’s desire for a mining industry that upholds national sovereignty and patrimony, social justice, environment protection and people’s rights and welfare. We reject the liberalized, foreign controlled and export-oriented mining industry".

On May 26, 2019, Beverly Geronimo was shot dead while on her way home with her 8-year-old daughter and two other relatives from buying school supplies. The daughter was shot on the arm but survived. The killers are suspected to be agents of the Philippine Army’s 25th infantry battalion.  Geronimo was an active member of several civil society organizations such asTabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA), the Parents-Teachers’ Community Association (PTCA) of the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy, and more. Since 2009, Beverly had experienced harassment, intimidation and coercion from soldiers for her outspoken activism against Agusan Petroleum, OZ Metals, and other mining companies [4].

On August 19, 2018, activist farmer and active member of the Compostela Farmer’s Association Jean Labial was shot dead by unknown hitmen on motorcycles for campaigning against Agusan as well as increasing militarization in the area [3].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Killing of anti-mining activists in Compostela, Mindanao, Philippines
State or province:Mindanao
Location of conflict:Compostela
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Copper

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Mining exploration permit for the Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation (Agpet) covers 12,444 hectares in Compostela displacing at least 1200 families. Permission for exploration granted by the state in 2011, expired in 2013 but AGPET is always there.

Project area:12,444
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:8,000
Start of the conflict:2011
Company names or state enterprises:Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corp (AGPET) from Philippines
Relevant government actors:The Army
Local government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Panalipdan - SMR (South Mindanao Region)
Compostela Farmers' Association
Hugpong sa Mag-Uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC) the provincial chapter of KMP in Compostela Valley

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Sources refer to "farmers and lumad" people. Artisanal miners also demonstrate against the company.
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Barricades, pickets, kampuhan (people’s camp), placing placards along mountain trails.


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Anoy Pasaporte and Jimmy Saypan were killed in October 2016
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Strong repression, killing or wounding of leaders of farmers' association.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Capital interests: A historical analysis of the transformation of small-scale gold mining in Compostela Valley province, Southern Philippines, by Boris Verbrugge.The Extractive Industries and Society. 1(1), March 2014, Pages 86–95 .

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites The online news portal of TV5 The online news portal of TV5

[1] Related case, killing of activist Teresita Navacilla in the King-King mining project in Compostela

[2] panalipdansouth.blogspot - Davao-based environmental campaign and education center dealing with threats to the environment and the people in Southern Mindanao Region

Compostela farmers, local gov't oppose mining exploration. Both the local government and farmers say Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corporation's mining exploration will do more harm than good to the town. Karlos Manlupig, June 21, 2015

[3] HRD Memorial. Jean Labial (2018)

[4] Bulatlat. Suspected soldiers shoot dead Lumad woman in Agusan Sur (2018)

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Lennart Hofman, Are indigenous Filipinos being murdered for anti-mine activism?

Panalipdan-SMR is a Davao-based environmental campaign and education center dealing with threats to the environment and the people in Southern Mindanao Region.

From Kilusang Magbubikid ng Pilipinas

Farmers and small scale miners Barricade Against The AGUSAN PETROLEUM And Mineral Corporation

Other comments:Local condolences: "Jimmy Saypan...loving father and son, a Mandaya Lumad leader, humble farmer, fearless community organizer, defender of the environment and ancestral domain, a genuine warm hearted spirit, we called you Kuya, our brother, our friend, our kauban, our kasama. They may have murdered your physical flesh, but your spirit will live on through us as we continue the struggle..."

Meta information

Contributor:JMA, updated by D. Tran
Last update24/10/2016