DAVAO CITY – The Army suspects of killing a pregnant mother and two of her children last October 2012 must be in jail, said a partylist representative during a Congressional inquiry on alleged human rights violations last Friday.
“If information is already filed in court, there is no way that a warrant of arrest is not issued and the suspects must be in the provincial court of jurisdiction,” said Silvestre Bello III, representative of 1BAP partylist.
Karlos Ysagani Zarate, Bayan Muna partylist representative, asked Brigadier General Benjamin Madrigal who represented the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the hearing, on the updates of the case.
“What has happened to the court martial proceedings General? It has been three years, the family of the victims has been yearning for justice,” said Zarate.
Madrigal said the suspects “are undergoing court martial proceedings at the headquarters of the Philippine Army, and the next hearing is on August 27.”
Juvy Capion, 28, and her sons Jordan, 13 and John Mark, 6, were killed by elements of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion on October 17, 2012 in Sitio Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
Juvy is the wife of Blaan tribal leader Dagil Capion, who allegedly led the attack against the mining company Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI), killing three company guards.
The Army said their operation was against Dagil and other armed men allegedly inside the house during the incident.
Juvy’s father Sukim K. Malid filed cases against Lieutenant Colonel Noel Alexis Bravo, 27th IB commander, Lieutenant Dante Jimenez who headed the operation and 14 others.
“The complaint was dismissed by the Provincial Prosecutors Office for failure (of) insufficient circumstantial evidence to establish probable cause but the DOJ (Department of Justice) conducted the investigation and reversed the decision,” said Madrigal.
Madrigal said the DOJ “told the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office to file information for three counts of murder and one count of frustrated murder and violation of International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes against Humanity or RA (Republic Act) 9851.”
Bello said the charges manifested by Madrigal are “unbailable offense.”
Bello asked if the charged individuals are in detention, Madrigal said he was informed they are under detention at the General Headquarters of the Philippine Army.
“I have to disagree with that procedure because under civil law, they should be detained upon order of the court where the case is pending and you cannot decide where they should be detained and ordinarily it must be in the provincial jail of Davao del Sur,” Bello said.
Madrigal said he was informed that there has already been an arraignment, but Bello said “an arraignment is not needed.”
“The moment the information was filed, automatically the court where the information is filed issues the warrant for the arrest of the accused,” said Bello.
Madrigal said they will “inform the higher office”, but Bello said that it was “not the proper action as a warrant of arrest cannot be refused and the court should be followed.”
Bello said it is called “civilian supremacy.”
The Army’s legal counsel who was present said that that they were also only “informed” of the matter.
“You are misinformed, as lawyers if someone tells us that if there is information filed in court and yet there is no warrant of arrest we should say you are fooling me. I am a lawyer do not fool me,” Bello said repeating his previous point.
He told the Army’s legal counsel “do not misinform the general (Madrigal).”
Meanwhile, Surigao Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr, chairman of the Congress committee on human rights, said he understands the same as explained by Bello.
“If we say that they are at the headquarters (of the Army), the people would say that we might be coddling these people (suspects),” he said.
Romarate said the suspects would “be back to (military) service anyway should they be found not guilty.”
On March 23, 2015, the Digos City Regional Trial Court issued the Information for murder charges against the suspects after finding probable cause, three years after the incident said human rights group Karapatan.
Karapatan quoted the court’s decision which said the accused were “conspiring confederating and mutually helping one another, with intent to kill, with treachery and taking advantage of their superior strength, armed with guns, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack, assault and shoot,” the victims.
However, the exclusion of Lt. Col. Bravo in a resolution of the DOJ in 2013 did not sit well with Karapatan.
“This practice completely disregards the principle of command responsibility and good governance. High officials should be held accountable for violations of their units directly under their command,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general.(davaotoday. com)