Group condemns massacre of tribal leader’s family

A MOTHER and her two young children are the latest victims of the increasing aggressiveness and impunity of the large-scale mining industry and its mercenary forces.

Juvy Capion, wife of B’laan tribal leader Daguil Capion, and their children Pop Capion, aged 13, and John, aged 8, were massacred in a raid by the 27th Infantry Battalion in the early morning of October 18, in Bong Mal, South Cotabato.

The B’laan tribe led by the brothers Daguil, Kitara and Batas, has been vehemently opposed to the entry of Xstrata-SMI’s Tampakan mining project, to the point of invoking the Pangayaw, their indigenous means of defending their domain, by engaging in an armed struggle against the Tampakan Project.

“We  strongly condemn this picture of Mindanao that Xstrata, the Aquino government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continue to paint. In the name of protecting investment interests, the government refuses to address the grave human rights violations or HRVs, economic dislocation and environmental degradation that the Tampakan project and various other large-scale mining operations threaten to unleash upon communities,”  the Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment and the Defend Patrimony Alliance against Mining Liberalization said.

Instead, it has resorted to a Marcosian approach of saturating opposing communities with paramilitary and military detachments under the benediction of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Meanwhile, mining transnational corporations or TNCs contribute to the militarization of mining areas by hiring heavily-armed security forces and even payrolling AFP-trained paramilitary groups, the group said.

Over a decade of profit-driven mineral plunder in the mining industry through the Mining Act of 1995 and other policies of mining liberalization has not only resulted in the depletion of precious ores and the destruction of critical ecosystems, but now clearer than ever the dereliction of the state of human rights as well. The advent of Executive Order 79, subscribed to the tenets of the current Mining Act, will only serve to perpetrate these conditions.

It is precisely this wanton state abandonment of mining-affected communities that push the likes of the B’laan Red Pangayaw to take up arms against the mining TNCs and their government and army lackeys.

Clearly, Pres. Aquino must be held accountable for his deathly silence on these issues almost two years in the running, and his perpetration of mining liberalization policies and its consequent HRV-inducing militarization programs as well.

Justice must be immediately dispensed for all victims of HRVs, especially in mining-affected communities. The Oplan Bayanihan, the Aquino government’s violent weapon against the ever surging and justified opposition to anti-people and anti-environment projects, must be scrapped. The CAFGUs, SCAAs and various other paramilitary groups that sow state-sponsored terrorism in affected communities must be abolished altogether. Finally, the Tampakan Project that bred discord and social strife in South Cotabato must be cancelled permanently.

Kalikasan-PNE and Defend Patrimony will troop to the Department of National Defense tomorrow in an indignation rally for the massacre of the Capion family. The government, military and mining TNCs must all pay for the lives they have destroyed in the name of mining plunder and liberalization.

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