DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 October) – The deaths of a B’laan mother and her two sons last October 18 in an alleged encounter in a village of Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur were “intentional” and were meant to silence the tribe’s struggle against open-pit mining operation in the area, a relative of the victims said in a press conference here Monday.
Killed in the incident were Juvy Capion, 27, who was two-month pregnant, and her two sons, John Mark, 13, (child with her first husband) and Jordan, 6, her child with second husband Daguel Capion.
Juvy’s 5-year old daughter Vicky also had gunshot wounds but survived. Riza, 10, another daughter, was not hit by the gunfire.
Erita Capion-Dialang, Juvy’s sister-in-law said during the press conference that when soldiers arrived in Fayalob, Sitio Datal-Alyong of Kimlawis, Jan-Jan and his mother were still sleeping inside their hut while Jordan was having coffee.
Dialang said that when her sister, Melanie, arrived at the hut to save Vicky and Riza, she heard the military said: “Tiwasi na lang ng mga bata” (kill the other children too), referring to Juvy’s daughters.
Melanie, however, pleaded to spare the children, she added.
Dialang denied statements by Lt Col Alex Bravo, battalion commander of 27th Infantry Battalion that an encounter had occurred.
Bravo said in an earlier report that his men responded to the alleged presence of Daguel in Datal-Alyong but were met by gunfire as they were approaching the area.
But Dialang said Daguel was 200 meters away from the hut during the alleged encounter, and he ran into the forest when he heard the gunshots not knowing that his family had become the target.
Daguel has strongly opposed the foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines Inc. which has a pending application for an open-pit mining venture that straddles Kiblawan, Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat, and Tampakan town in South Cotabato.
The provincial government of South Cotabato passed an ordinance in 2010 banning the open-pit mining method.
8 died in two weeks
Zadrach Sabella, deputy secretary general of Karapatan in Southwestern Mindanao, said in the press conference that the alleged massacre was mining-related.
He said that in a period of two weeks, eight Lumads including Juvy and her children (including the unborn one) had died for their opposition to mining operations.
He named four other victims of alleged extrajudicial killings. They were Ronald Malley, 16, and Andy Patioct Datuwata, 24, of Barangay Telapas, Colombio, Sultan Kudarat, killed on September 29; Ronnie Ginang, 35, of Sitio Nakultana, Kimlawis, killed on October 11; and, Eping Mangaan, 32, of Barangay Libertad, Columbio.
Sabella said the victims were all members of Kalgad, a Lumad group opposed to mining operations and of which Dialang is the vice president.
Karapatan called for a thorough and impartial investigation and the outright relief of Bravo and his men who were involved in the incident, pullout of all military and paramilitary forces in mining areas, the withdrawal of SMI, and a stop to the Aquino administration’s anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan.
Dulphing Ogan, secretary general of Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao said the call for the pullout of the military was valid. He said soldiers were deployed in the area to protect the interests of SMI.
He said the military called Daguel a bandit and put up a P300,000 bounty for his capture to suppress the truth that he is leading a “pangayaw”, a traditional warfare against the mining company.
Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division said earlier that a board of inquiry has been created to see if the soldiers had violated the rules of engagement.
He also said that Bravo, company commander Lt. Dante Jimenez, and several other soldiers involved in the incident were summoned to the 10th ID for investigation.
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front in Far South Mindanao Region (NDF-FSMR)said that Daguel has joined the rebel group after he was declared “most wanted” by authorities.
In a statement, the NDF-FSMR said Daguel has “embraced the ‘ideals of the revolutionary movement.”
The rebel group said Daguel’s pangayaw was based on “revolutionary justice.” (Lorie Ann Cascaro, with a report from Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)