“The killing of Kitari will fuel the hatred and the determination of the Blaan to defend themselves and their territories.” – Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A Lumad leader who took up arms against large-scale mining was killed.
According to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Socksargen, soldiers belonging to the Task Force Kitacom (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio, Malungon) fired at the house of Kitari Capion, January 29.
Kitari, a known leader of the Blaan tribe that is waging a pangayaw (tribal war) against Xstrata Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) Corporation, was hit at the back and was rushed to a hospital in South Cotabato. He later died due to hemorrhage.
In a statement, Ryan Lariba, Bayan-Socksargen secretary general, said witnesses testified that Capion was unarmed during the incident and was not able to fire back at the military.
“The military is performing its Xstrata-SMI’s mercenary role to the letter. They kill lumads and local residents in servitude to Xstrata-SMI, a foreign company at that. Military operations in mining areas drive the lumads to take up arms if only to defend their ancestral lands and lives”, Lariba said.
Kitari is the fourth member of the Capion clan to be killed by state security forces. He is the younger brother of Daguil, whose wife, Juvy, and two sons, were shot dead by soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in October last year.
Piya Macliing Malayao, Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp) spokeswoman, said “the killing of Kitari will fuel the hatred and the determination of the Blaan to defend themselves and their territories.”
Kamp said SMI-Xstrata threatens to displace 30,000 Blaan in Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio, and Malungon municipalities in the mountain ranges of Saranggani, Davao del Sur, and South Cotabato.
“It likewise proves how [members of] the military are acting as the hired guns and protectors of SMI-Xstrata,” Malayao said.
Pull out military
Human rights group Karapatan called for the immediate pull out of the Task Force Kitacom of the 39th IBPA and 27th IBPA and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) from civilian communities.
The group said some 150 residents of Kimlawis village, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur have evacuated from their homes after Kitari’s death.
“We view the recent military operation as another violation of the B’laan’s right to their ancestral lands, as if the incursion of the Xstrata Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is not enough to wipe out the B’laan tribe,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.
Palabay said the involvement of the 27th IB in the recent military operations “confirms that the military’s earlier announcement to punish those involved in the massacre of Juvy Capion and her sons was just for show.”
The Armed Forces of the Philippines supposedly pulled out the 27th IBPA and replaced it with the 39th IBPA after the Capion massacre. Karapatan noted that “both battalions are now involved in the killing of another Capion.”
Bayan-Socksargen’s Lariba said 13 soldiers of the 27th IBPA have yet to be held accountable for the killing of Juvy and her two sons.
Lariba said the only solution for Bong Mal to be peaceful once more is for Xstrata-SMI and the military to leave the area at once.
According to Kamp, 32 indigenous peoples have been killed since Aquino assumed office. Most of the killings are related to large-scale mining.
“The resistance of the Blaan people to the entry of SMI-Xstrata has been loud and clear, and the government does not heed this plight,” Malayao said. “The bloodshed will continue until the government recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to their ancestral territories and pull out military forces.”
Karapatan’s Palabay blamed Aquino’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan for the forced evacuation of thousands of Mindawons away from their lands.