MANILA, Philippines (19-Oct-2012) – “It was a massacre and not an encounter,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan belying claims of Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, head of the 27th IB of the Philippine Army that a Blaan woman, Juvy Capion, 27, and her two sons, John Capion, 8, and Pop Capion,13 were killed in a gunfight.
Initial reports that reached the Karapatan national office indicated that on October 17, Juvy Capion and her two sons went to their farm and spent the night in Fayahlob, Sitio Datal-Ayong, Bgy. Danlag, Tampakan, South Cotabato because they did not finish their day’s work. The following day, On October 18, at around 6 a.m., the three were still inside the hut when element of the 27th IB arrived and sprayed bullets on the hut, killing Juvy Capion and her two sons.
“There was no gunfight between the military and Juvy’s husband Daguil as the military claimed,” said Palabay. The military said that Danguil Capion, a B’laan tribal leader, has taken up arms against the entry a mining corporation in the area, the Xstrata- Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI).
Juvy Capion was a member of Kalgad, an organization of the Blaan tribe that is opposed to the entry of Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI) as there are about 30,000 Blaan who will be displaced from their ancestral lands with the entry and operation of Xstrata-SMI.
SMI is touted to be the biggest mining investor in the country with U$5.9 billion investment largely in Tampakan, South Cotabato. The SMI is owned by the Australia-based Xstrata Copper, believed to the the fourth largest global copper producer.
“We call for the complete pullout of the 27th IB and other paramilitary groups from the Lumad communities. The military and paramilitary forces serve as company guards and they have harassed, threatened and intimidated the Lumad who are opposed to the SMI operation,” said Palabay.
The 27th IB is based in Tupi, South Cotabato while the paramilitary groups, specifically the Special Armed Auxilliary has a mandate from the Malacanang as they are force multipliers in the protection and security of mining companies such as the SMI.
Palabay said that Karapatan is “alarmed with the spate of killings among the indigenous peoples who, naturally and logically, oppose the operation of foreign-owned, large-scale mining corporations, as these operations are in their ancestral lands, depriving them of their source of livelihood, and therefore, their life and desecrating their culture.”