April 24, 2014     Philippines
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October 18, 2012
Tribe family in Tampakan massacred by military

A relative of the two Capion victims, Liah Capion, has previously denounced SMI saying that because she and her family had stood up against the entry of the mining company in their once peaceful community, the Army imprisoned one of her sons and declared three others as outlaws and fugitives.

By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — An anti-mining group is accusing the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of being behind the massacre of a family, who has long been fighting the Tampakan Gold project of SaXstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), in Bong Mal South Cotabato.

The Alyansa Tigil Mina received reports that between 6:00 to 6:30 in the morning of October 18, soldiers under the command of Col. Alexis Bravo of the 27th IB of the Philippine Army raided the house of anti-mining advocate Daguil Capion. Minutes later, it was learned that three other civilians Juvy Capion, 27, Pop Capion, 13, and John, 8 were killed during the raid. As of this writing, Daguil remains in critical condition.

The anti-mining group also said it has received word that Col. Bravo has admitted that they raided Capion’s house.

Alyansa Tigil Mina national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said Daguil is a known warrior of his clan and has previously declared that it is his duty to protect his tribe’s ancestral domain. He said Daguil is not a member of either the New People’s Army (NPA) or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or any rebel group.

“The most obvious threat against their domain right is the Tampakan Mining Project of SMI,” said Garganera.

Defending their ancestral lands

A report written by Bong Sarmiento that came out in Sunstar Davao on May 23, 2012 said Capion, a Blaan tribal leader, was said to have had claimed responsibility for an ambush in March 2011 in Brgy. Danlag also in Tampakan, but put the blame on the mining firm.

In June 29, 2012, a report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer named the Capion brothers Dagil, Kitara and Batas as being behind the ambush of a convoy of vehicles associated with SMI. The same report quoted the sister of the Capion brothers, Rita Dialang, as saying that her brothers were making a “sacrifice in defense of the tribe’s ancestral land and in defense of our way of life.”

“Forest, to us, is like a vast market. We get everything we need out there. It is our hunting ground, our drugstore, our farmland and our sanctuary. Destroy the forest and you also destroy our lives,” she said in the Inquirer report written by Aquiles Zonio, Orlando Dinoy and Tito Fiel of Inquirer Mindanao.

Dialang, in the report, was also quoted as saying that soldiers backing up the SMI have been abusive, which fuelled the hatred against the mining company more.

Tons of gold and copper

According to the anti-mining group, the Bong Mal community has been opposing the Tampakan Copper-Gold Project since the beginning and residents have been at the receiving end of continuing human rights violations. Media reports revealed that the SMI has been constructing infrastructure facilities in Kiblawan, particularly in Bong Mal and Kimlawis villages in support of its Tampakan mining project. Bong Mal, which is located at the borders of Tampakan, South Cotabato and Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, is said to be an important gateway for SMI.

In January 1, 2008, NPA members launched a successful attack against the base camp of Sagittarius Mines in Barangay Tablu. The NPA destroyed buildings and mining equipment worth P12 million ($285 thousand). The following year, they also conducted a successful operation against the Tampakan Municipal Police Station as a show of disapproval for the police force’s assistance to SMI.

According to reports, the Tampakan project is the site of the largest underdeveloped copper and gold deposits in Southeast Asia. The copper reserves of Tampakan are estimated to be between 13.9 to 15 million metric tons. Gold is said to be between 16.2 to 17.9 million ounces.

Based on the Alyansa Tigil Mina’s reckoning, the Tampakan project will dislocate an estimated 2,600 families or 4,000 individuals. These residents are mostly members of the Blaan tribe who live in the communities targeted for mining operations. The SMI has reportedly ignored three overlapping CADTS or Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles and one CADC or Certificate of Ancestral Domain Certificate belonging to the Blaan communities. An estimated 74 percent or 7,095 of the 10,000 hectares of the proposed mine site are within the Blaans ‘ ancestral lands.

Human rights violations in Tampakan

In April 2012, the Alyansa Tigil Mina with human rights groups led a fact-finding mission to Bol Mal to support the residents.

The Philippine Army had reportedly set up barricades in Kiblawan Davao del Sur to stop the mission, but failed. The anti-mining group said SMI’s supporters and scholarship recipients also helped the Army by manning the barricades at Pulang Bato, Tampakan. This is the gateway to Bong Mal, the actual site of the 500 hectare-wide open pit of the mining project.

A relative of the two Capion victims, Liah Capion, has previously denounced SMI saying that because she and her family had stood up against the entry of the mining company in their once peaceful community, the Army imprisoned one of her sons and declared three others as outlaws and fugitives.

The Alyansa Tigil Mina said residents of Bong Mal have been subjected to various forms of physical and psychological violence by military elements who demolished houses and the community’s makeshift warehouse where residents stored harvested goods. The military also destroyed many crops.

Other residents said they are afraid to go to the nearby forest to gather wood or food because the Army had forbidden them from doing so. They said they are afraid that once the Army discovers how they, the residents, are against mining, they would be arrested and accused of being NPA members. They said many soldiers constantly go on foot-patrol to monitor the activities of the residents.

Another woman could barely hold back tears as she narrated her family’s sufferings because of the Tampakan mining project. She said her husband was killed by the military last December 5, 2011 while in their custody. The military had previously arrested her husband, but still declared that he was killed in a military encounter.

Another Blaan woman said that in January 13, 2012, police officers conducted an illegal raid and search in her house, saying that they were looking for her husband who is also active in protests against mining. The police reportedly stole iron pots and pillows, terrorized her children, and threatened her with arrest if she did not reveal her husband’s whereabouts.

The Alyansa Tigil Mina also documented other cases of residents being run over by bulldozers doing road construction, and the military and the SMI prohibiting all residents from building new houses or shelters. The mining company also reportedly imposed a curfew and forbade male members of the community from farming or hunting. Women, in the meantime, were instructed to seek the permission of the military before attending to their work in the farms or before gathering food in the forest.

Last March 21, the SMI also reportedly posted notices on the houses of the residents, telling residents that March 23 was the cut-off period for them to enlist for something they did not understand: the notices were written in Visayan and not in the local language and hence, could not be understood by most residents.

The Alyansa Tigil Mina said the residents are not even after payment or indemnification: they just want SMI out of their ancestral domain.

During the anti-mining group’s Tampakan forum in 2011, the group released its critique of the SMI’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) document, which it submitted to the Environmental Bureau of Management (EMB) for review. The alliance said that SMI’s mitigation efforts in the form of a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) fails to appreciate the unique cultural identity of the Blaan, and merely enumerates standard social development interventions.

“The ESIA fails to understand and truly take into account the interplay between the Blaans, their culture, knowledge and interaction with their environment,” the group said. (http://bulatlat.com)

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5 thoughts on “Tribe family in Tampakan massacred by military

  1. Pingback: Aquino administration’s human rights policy: Big in words, too little in action - Bulatlat

  2. Pingback: [Press Release] Groups blame Xstrata-SMI: “Their blood are in your hands!” -ATM « Human Rights Online Philippines

  3. Pingback: There is Life in Mining | A Cynic Meets Hope

  4. When state forces, such as the military, conspire with corporations, such as mining companies, to oppress, harass,or murder civilians defending their lands, THEN IT IS CALLED FASCISM. Penoy is a crypto-fascist president.

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