They are demanding the military to account for such “act of barbarity” and pull-out these troops “who have become attack dogs against lumads who are only defending their land from being turned into ugly mine sites.”
By WARREN CAHAYAG, davaotoday.com
Tupi, South Cotabato – Anti-mining advocates led by church, lumads and progressive groups in Socsksargen and Davao strongly condemn the brutal slaying of the family of a Blaan anti mining leader in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
They are demanding the military to account for such “act of barbarity”, saying that relieving the perpetrators is not enough but the pull-out of these troops “who have become attack dogs against lumads who are only defending their land from being turned into ugly mine sites.”
The Mindanao Alliance of Indigenous Peoples, Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) said that the killing of Juvy Capion, the pregnant wife of anti-mining indigenous leader Daguil Capion and his two sons “was intentional and not a result of an encounter as claimed by the Philippine army.”
A fact finding mission initiated in the area by the Marbel diocese and other groups learned from family members and neighbors of the Capions that elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 27th Infantry Battalion strafed the hut of Capion in Sitio Datal-Alyong, Barangay Danlag, Tampakan at 6 am of October 18.
Juvy, two-months pregnant, and her two sons, aged 13 and 8, were killed immediately, while her five-year-old daughter Vicky was wounded. Daguil who was tending to his farm some two hundred meters away from the house heard the gunshots and hurriedly escaped thinking he was being targeted.
Juvy and her two sons, Jan-Jan and Jorge, were also found out to have sustained gunshot wounds in the head.
The mission team found out that the bodies of the victims were dragged out of the house by the perpetrators and exposed to elements for hours in an attempt to compel Daguil’s surrender.
The 27th IB headed by a certain Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo in a radio interview claimed the incident was “a legitimate encounter” between his men and Red Pangayaw led by Daguil.
But Secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Socsksargends Ryan Lariba disputes this saying Bravo was “threading patent lies to conceal the atrocity,” which was the latest in the recent spate of attacks against staunch anti-mining campaigners in Mindanao.
A heightened attack against anti-mining tribal leaders
The environmental group, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE) accounted 28 environment defenders killed under President Benigno Aquino III in two years.
Prior to the incident, Gilbert Paborada, a lumad leader in Northern Mindanao was killed on October 3. He was the third lumad leader killed this year under the present administration, based on the data of indigenous peoples partylist, Katribu.
The group cited Matigsalug leader Jimmy Liguyon of San Fernando, Bukidnon who was killed in March, and followed by Banwaon leader Genesis Ambason in San Luis, Agusan del Sur, on September 13. They were both reportedly killed by paramilitary troops.
The three indigenous leaders are known for staunchly opposing projects forcibly implemented in their ancestral lands, particularly mining.
Representative Luz Ilagan of Gabriela Women’s Party, a Mindanao affairs advocate, notes that there are “heightened military attacks against anti-mining tribal leaders in Mindanao,” citing that the Capions have been opposing the operation of Sagittarius Mines Incorporated-Xstrata (SMI-Xstrata) in their area.
Daguil, according to environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, is among the tribal chieftains of the communities spanned by the mining claims of SMI-Xstrata in the region. These communities are Danlag, Salnaong, Pula Bato, Bong Mal, and Datal Biao in the Municipalities of Tampakan; Kiblawan in Davao Del Sur; and Columbio, in Sultan Kudarat.
Juvy was a member of Kalgad, a local lumad organization that has taken a strong stance against SMI-Xstrata’s extraction of rich gold and copper deposits in the quadri-boundary of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat.
SMI’s Tampakan Project is said to displace an estimated 30,000 Blaan peoples out of their ancestral territories.
Blood in SMI-Xstrata’s hands
Panalipdan sad Daguil is targeted by the military for leading the B’laan tribe’s pangayaw (tribal war) in June against the mining company.
In waging the pangayaw , the tribesmen attacked SMI’s security, machines, and equipment.
Kalumaran said the fact that the AFP and Xstrata-SMI “have been reeling from the opposition posed by the Blaan people’s pangayaw against the mining company’s open-pit encroachment, and the murder of Daguil’s family shows they are on a murderous rage.”
The National Alliance of Indigenous Peoples Organization in the Philippines, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP) cites that the Blaan declared pangayaw or tribal war against SMI was “just.”
“It is entrenched in the culture of the indigenous peoples to defend their land and life. For centuries, we defended our lands against the plunder of our territories and the killing of our people. SMI is a threat to the way of life and the survival of the Blaan people. The pangayaw being waged is just,” Piya Macliing Malayao, KAMP spokesperson said in a statement.
“However, the merciless murder of the unarmed and children are inexcusable. The military act as the security force of foreign business and interests, and not of the people,” Malayao added.
Gabriela’s Ilagan noted that one year after the death of anti-mining activist Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio the deaths of environmental activists in Mindanao continue. She said, “Indigenous families, including children are now direct targets in the Aquino government’s continued defense of mining corporations.”
The Gabriela solon also said the Tampakan massacre “highlights the Aquino government’s low regard and disdain over indigenous peoples defending ancestral lands from unhampered mining and plunder.”
She maintained that Aquino’s counter-insurgency scheme, Oplan Bayanihan and his policy of deploying military units and militias for the use of mining corporations “has resulted to the evacuation and displacement of thousands, the deaths of indigenous leaders and activists and the continued plunder of our mineral resources.”
Ilagan said they hold President Aquino responsible for these continued attacks.
Kalumaran secretary general Dulphing Ogan, a Blaan from Sarangani, believes the incident must compel the Aquino government to immediately relieve, not only the commanding officer of the 27th IB but the officialdom of the Eastern Mindanao Command-AFP.
“More importantly the Aquino government must repeal its mining liberalization policy reinforced by EO 79 and legitimized by the Mining Act of 1995 as these clearly bring death and destruction to indigenous communities,” he said.
Katribu meanwhile calls on the Department of Justice to form an independent fact finding board that will determine the extent violations done by the 27th IBPA and file necessary charges.
Katribu National President Beverly Longid in a statement said they have doubts over the board of inquiry that the military claimed it had formed to look into the Tampakan incident. “As early as now, the members of the 27th IBPA is lying to say that what happened is an encounter with Daguil Group,” Longid added.
Call to action
Bayan-Socsksargends, together with its allied groups have picketed the SMI office in Bula Road in General Santos City to condemn the Tampakan Massacre and call for swift justice for victims.
Around 1,000 bishops, pastors and lay church workers under the nationwide membership of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) have also embarked on a “National Caravan Against Large Scale Mining and Impunity” this Monday.
Pastor Jay Sichon, National President of the UCCP-United Church Worker’s Organization (UCCP-UCWO) in a statement said their national caravan, affirms the mission and vision of their church to uphold justice, peace and integrity of creation in the service of God and the people.”
Sichon said, their church “stands in solidarity with the Filipino people in opposing the massive influx of large-scale mining which has caused the severe deterioration of the environment and led to the perpetuation of militarization, human rights violations of those who stand in the way of aggressors.”
Meanwhile, defenders and advocates for the environment led by Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao will hold a public forum today from 9am to 12 noon at the Ateneo De Davao University President’s Board Room, to press calls for justice for the Capion family and all those martyred for defending Filipino lands to large-scale destructive mining. (Warren Cahayag, davaotoday.com)