In an era where standing up to corporations often warrants a death sentence, the latest casualty in the fight for Indigenous and environmental rights is 27-year-old Veronico “Nico” Lapsay Delamente, a leader of the Mamanwa tribe in Claver, a mining town of the Philippines.
An outspoken critic of nickel mining corporations wreaking havoc on ancestral lands, he was shot the same day that the Indigenous Lumad and Mamanwas groups were set to hold a meeting with National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) representatives to discuss community conflicts linked to large-scale nickel mining.
Kasalo, a Lumad organization, reported that two men aboard a motorcycle with their faces covered drove by and shot Delamente several times. One of the bullets hit a bystander, a child who is still being treated in hospital.
“The assailants were not apprehended despite the presence of a military detachment of the Task Force Diamond of the Philippine Army at the entrance of the road exiting Punta Naga,” the group said, as reported by Davao Today.
Delamente was a provincial coordinator of Katribu Partylist since 2010 and was also an active member of the Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong mga Organisasyon, a regional Lumad organization.
In addition, he was a council member of the AMPANTRENTO, an NCIP-recognized organization of the Lumad people in Claver.
Just last month he had expressed fear over threats to his life due to his outspoken opposition to mining activities in the region.