An Open Letter to His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III

Nov. 03, 2012

29 October 2012

To His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III

Mr. President:

The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) joins Filipino human rights defenders, indigenous rights leaders, environmental advocates, church clergy, people’s organizations and international rights groups in strongly condemning the current military and foreign mining aggression against the people of Mindanao.

We are outraged at the deliberate killing of a Blaan mother and her children by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s 27th Infantry Battalion under the command of Col. Alexis Bravo.

According to the fact-finding mission conducted by the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, soldiers massacred a pregnant Juvy Capion, 27, and her two sons Jordan, 13, and John 8, inside their farm house in the morning of October 18.  Vicky, the young daughter aged 4, was wounded.  According to witnesses, Juvy pleaded that they stop firing as she was already wounded, to which the soldiers replied with more bullets.  To a relative’s plea that they spare the children, a soldier answered, “Better to finish off the children, so there are no witnesses.”  The corpses were then left under the sun for almost a day and their relatives prevented from claiming their bodies.

A few hours after the incident, Col. Bravo called a press conference to announce that the victims were killed in an encounter with armed rebels.

What were the Capion family’s transgressions that they were cold-bloodily murdered by your soldiers?  It is a well-known fact in the community that Daguil Capion, the father and husband, and a leader of the Blaan tribal community actively oppose the entry of Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).  His wife, Juvy, was a member of Kalgad, an organization opposed too, to the entry of the mega gold and copper project that will displace about 30,000 Blaan people from their ancestral lands with its entry and operation.

SMI is touted to be the biggest mining investor in the country with the USD 5.9 billion investment largely in Tampakan, South Cotabato.  The SMI is owned by the Australia-based Xstrata Copper, believed to be the fourth largest global copper producer.

The Capion family joins the growing list of extrajudicial killing victims among who are Gerry Ortega, Eliezer Billanes, Gilbert Paborada and Father Fausto Tentorio, who were murdered for their human rights and environmental advocacy work by persons believed to be agents and members of state security forces.

Mr. President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, we ask that you order an immediate pull-out of the 27th Infantry Battalion and a stop to Operation Plan Bayanihan, your counter-insurgency program that is in truth, an all-out war against the people.  Disband all militia forces like the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit, Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary and other paramilitary formations used to protect the interests of despotic landlords, transnational and mining corporations like Xstrata-SMI that plunder our forests and destroy the environment.

We further urge you to:

1. Cancel the mining permits of Xstrata-SMI Company as its presence in the area has caused considerable violence and bloodshed among our people.

2. That a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of the massacre be done by government agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice.

We seek justice for the Capion family and for other victims of state-sanctioned violence legitimized by Oplan Bayanihan.

Finally we call on your administration and all its institutions to uphold the basic human rights of the citizens whom you have sworn to serve.

The Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights

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