A year after, still no justice for family killed in Tampakan mine site

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KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/18 October)–Justice remains elusive for a mother and her two children killed exactly a year ago today, October 18, in the mines development site of foreign-backed Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), various groups lamented.

Juvy Capion (2nd from right), one of those killed on Thursday's (18 Oct 2012) firefight between soldiers and B'laan armed men opposing the Tampakan mining project, was seen smiling in a photo taken in Sitio Alyong in Bong Mal district last month. Juvy's two sons were also killed. Her husband Daguel heads the armed tribal members. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)
Juvy Capion (2nd from right), one of those killed on Thursday’s (18 Oct 2012) firefight between soldiers and B’laan armed men opposing the Tampakan mining project, was seen smiling in a photo taken in Sitio Alyong in Bong Mal district last month. Juvy’s two sons were also killed. Her husband Daguel heads the armed tribal members. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)

Juvy Capion and her sons Jordan, 13, and John Mark, 6, were killed in an operation mounted by the military in Sitio Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur against her husband, Daguel Capion, leader of a tribal armed group opposing the mining venture of SMI.

Capion is facing murder charges for the killing of three workers of a construction company hired by SMI for a road project in March 2011, among other alleged murder and frustrated murder cases involving government troops and company guards in the mines development site.

In a statement, the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), condemned the lack of justice for the victims, noting “their relatives and allies are [still] crying for justice.”

“A lot of things happened after the massacre, evidences and testimonies that point to the proper authorities who are the perpetrators of this heinous crime. However, we cannot find any positive development on the case and we cannot understand what is keeping the government from acting decisively,” Fr. Oliver Castor, PMPI project officer, said.

He was apparently referring to the elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army that conducted the raid that resulted to the killing of the three civilians.

“The military, up to now, is claiming that it was a legitimate military operation,” the priest said.

At least nine soldiers, including a junior officer, have been relieved of their posts and recommended for court martial following the killings. Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo, 27th IB commander, eventually resigned from his post and was transferred to another assignment also in Mindanao.

In another statement, Leon Dulce, spokesperson of the Task Force Justice for Environment Defenders (TF-JED), said that the court recently dismissed a legal case on the Tampakan “massacre” case.

TF-JED, a support network for environmental advocates’ rights, said “the dismissal of the case against SMI” for the death of Juvy and her sons “was a go-signal for military and paramilitary groups to continue killing civilians opposed to big mines and other destructive projects.”

“It is deplorable how quickly the court decided to deem evidence of the massacre of the Capion family insufficient when the facts clearly implicate the paramilitary groups sponsored by Glencore-Xstrata-SMI under the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Task Force KITACO. A year after the barbaric act, justice remains elusive and the threats posed by what will be Asia’s biggest mining project continue to be alive,” Dulce said.

Glencore International plc acquired Xstrata plc, which owns 62.5 percent of the controlling equity at SMI, last May to form Glencore Xstrata plc. Australian firm Indophil Resources NL owns the other 37.5 of the controlling equity.

Manolo Labor, SMI spokesperson, said, however, that “no case has been filed against the company in connection with the killing of Juvy and her sons either at any court or before the Commission on Human Rights.”

“That I have checked with out legal team,” he said on the phone.

The Tampakan project is touted as the largest undeveloped copper and gold minefield in Southeast Asia, containing, according to a company study, an estimated 17.9 million ounces of gold and 15 million metric tons of copper deposits.

An open-pit ban imposed by the provincial government of South Cotabato since 2010 had hampered the Tampakan project into progressing into commercial production.

Last August, the company announced it is downscaling operations, affecting nearly 1,000 workers, to focus on getting the necessary permits, including the endorsement of the South Cotabato government. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)

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