Blaan anti-mining leader’s wife, kids “shot while sleeping”

Oct. 23, 2012

Dialang said her sister-in-law, Melanie Capion, came to the place of incident first and took Vicky who was wounded in the ear, and Risa. “Tiwasan pa gyud unta sa mga sundalo ang duha ka bata. Nagpakiluoy pa si Melanie sa ilaha (The soldiers even wanted to finish off the two other children (Vicky and Risa) but Melanie pleaded.)”

Davao Today

Davao City, Philippines — In a press conference with environmentalists and human rights advocates, Monday, the relative of Juvy Capion said her sister-in-law and her nephews were shot by the military “while they were sleeping.”

Erita Capion Dialang, who lives near the Capions said she heard gunshots around 6 am of October 18 towards the direction of the farm hut of the Capions which is situated in Sitio Datal-Alyong, a boundary area between Barangay Danlag, part of Tampakan town of South Cotabato and Barangay Kiblawis which is already part of Kiblawan, a municipality of Davao del Sur.

“Dali ra man kaayo ang buto nga akong nadunggan (I heard only a short burst of gunshots),” Dialang said.

Dialang said her sister-in-law, Melanie Capion, came to the place of incident first and took Vicky who was wounded in the ear, and Risa. “Tiwasan pa gyud unta sa mga sundalo ang duha ka bata. Nagpakiluoy pa si Melanie sa ilaha (The soldiers even wanted to finish off the two other children (Vicky and Risa) but Melanie pleaded.)”

Vicky is the five-year-old child of the Capions, who was wounded in the ear, and Risa, a ten-year-old who is a relative.

Dialang said Melanie and Tessie, another relative, brought out the children first then came back to the hut with her. “Pag-abot namo didto, nakit-an namo ang isa sa military, gipunggan mi nga mosulod. Kay naa pa daw ang kalaban. Nitubag ko, pataka ra man mo. Wala man moy kalaban diri. Kamo diay ang makahurot sa amoa diri. (We saw one of the military men when we arrived there. He prevented us from going inside. According to them, the enemies were still there. Nonsense, I told them, you do not have enemies here. You will finish all of us).”

Dialang said only when other Blaan farmers arrived did the soldiers back off.

The lifeless bodies of Juvy, 32, and her two sons Jan-jan, 8, and Jordan, 13, were already laid outside the house.

“Giguyod pa gyud nila, gibulad sa gawas, (They dragged the bodies out of the hut and bared them outside),” Dialang said, adding that the soldiers even prevented them from taking the bodies. “Niingon sila, ihatag lang daw nila kung molugsong si Daguil (They said they will only turn them over to us if Daguil would come out in the open.)”

Dialang said the bodies were only taken out at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

According to Dialang, Juvy was hit by three bullets, one in the leg, one in the chest and one in the head. Her two boys had gunshot wounds in the head,too. Vicky was wounded while Risa was not hit because Juvy used her body to cover them.

Dialang said the Capions were planting corn seeds the day before the incident happened. Dialang was even among those who helped the Capions in the farm work. She said she saw Daguil when they were about to go home.

Daguil, her brother, was tending to his farm, about two hundred meters from the area when the strafing happened in the morning of the next day.

Earlier on the day of the incident, around two a.m., Dialang said her mother-in-law woke her up upon hearing the sound of passing military trucks. “Wala lang nako panumbalinga kay abi nako maghatud ra tug pagkaon sa detachment (I did not mind them thinking that they were only bringing food to the detachment).”

Hunted down

In its recent statement emailed to, the Armed Forces’ 10th Infantry Division said that their troops belonging to the 27th Infantry Battalion “responded after they received reports from civilians about the presence of Daguil Capion and his men in the area.”

Daguil Capion is a Blaan tribal leader who declared a “pangayaw (tribal war)” against Swiss-Anglo mining firm Sagittarius Mines Incorported which has a mining application on the ancestral domain of the Blaans in Tampakan town in South Cotabato, Kiblawan in Davao del Sur and Colombio in Sultan Kudarat.

News reports said Daguil and his men conducted a series of ambushes on military and police forces which escorted SMI’s mining equipment.

The Army’s statement said further that soldiers were “unaware that Daguil Capion’s family was also inside the hut” and assumed Daguil’s men were hiding there.

Erita Dialang slammed the military’s claim.

“Daguil is not a bandit. He and other Blaans only became wanted by the government because they are fighting against land grabbing,” Erita said.

Kalumaran, an alliance of indigenous peoples in the island of Mindanao said that the “pangayaw” is a legitimate declaration practiced by a tribe against another tribe or, in other cases, external threats.

“The Blaans declared pangayaw as its last and desperate move against the encroachment of SMI because government agencies failed them,” said Dulphing Ogan, Secretary General of Kalumaran.

Ogan added that Blaans have been strong in their resistance against SMI. Juvy is a member of KALGAD, the organization of the Blaans in the community opposing the entry of SMI.

In mid-1990s, the Blaans opposed Western Mining Corporation, an Australian mining firm. A Blaan leader Gurelmin Malid, who is Juvy Capion’s uncle-in-law, led a fierce resistance and was murdered in 2002.

Mining and Killings

In a statement of condemnation, the Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy Center (APILA) of the Ateneo de Davao University said that the spate of killings of anti-mining activists and indigenous peoples is a painful reminder that they are not protected.

“This is a clear and convincing testament that the indigenous peoples’ rights have been neglected by the State’s duty-bearers,” the statement said.

Francis Morales of environmental group Panalipdan Southern Mindanao said this shows that mining-related killings being perpetrated by armed groups and the State’s military and police forces is becoming a state policy.

“We are not surprised that this happened. It seems the Armed Forces of the Philippines are protecting the interests of foreign mining companies,” said Morales.

Legal and metalegal movements

Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and Bayan Muna said the soldiers involved in the killing of the Juvy Capion and her sons may be prosecuted for multiple-murder.

“The circumstances are there. Many of them allegedly did the strafing,” said Zarate.

Meanwhile, Professor Mae Templa, from the Human Rights consortium Barug Katungod said that when all necessary legal means are exhausted, they will immediately seek the investigation of international human rights bodies.

Because the case involves attacks on women and chilren, Templa said that they intend to involve the United Nation’s special rapporteurs on women and children and the indigenous peoples. (John Rizle L. Saligumba,

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