Anti-mining leader assassinated by suspected military elements in Koronadal City, South Cotabato, Philippines

Account of Incident:

On March 9, 2009 at about 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the Eliezer Billanes was gunned down by two (2) unidentified men riding a scooter type motorcycle bearing plate number MJ5432. The victim was buying a newspaper along the public market of Koronadal City fronting the City Fire Station when he was shot. He was hit on his right cheek that caused his death.

On the day of the incident, Billanes attended a dialogue with Lt. Eduardo Florentino, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion’s Charlie Company, based in Tupi, South Cotabato; and three other barangay officials. Billanes initiated the said dialogue with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to clarify things about his safety and security after being aware that elements of the military have been visible in their barangay doing house-to-house census.

The dialogue was first scheduled last March 8, 2009 but was canceled by Lt. Florentino. He suggested the reschedule for March 9, 2009 at 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon.

Two (2) weeks prior to the incident, the victim reported that he was under surveillance and received several threats he believed were from the military because of his open anti-mining position in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

ELIEZER “Boy” BILLANES was an active leader and activist in advocacies against large-scale mining in South Cotabato and in defending the rights of the marginalized sectors. ###