Military unit tagged in Tampakan massacre replaced; rights groups wary

Nov. 05, 2012

“We demand that they admit to the crime; they should be punished for the loss of lives of the innocent civilians in the massacre”– Pastor Sadrach Sabella, secretary-general of Karapatan-Socsksargends

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Replacing army units will further increase human rights violations against helpless civilians, a human rights group asserted as the Philippine Army moved its troops following last month’s massacre of a Lumad Blaan family in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

In fact, for Pastor Sadrach Sabella, secretary-general of Karapatan-South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, General Santos, Davao del Sur (Karapatan-Socsksargends) the pull-out of the 27th Infantry Battalion and its replacement by the 39th IB “only proves that military activities in the area will be prolonged to protect the interest of the SMI-Xstrata large-scale mining that is being opposed by, among others, the Blaan tribe.”

Major General Ariel Bernardo, the commander of AFP’s 10th Infantry Division, on Monday, November 5, presided over the turn-over of the area of 27thIB to 39th IB.

The 39th IB now is headed by Lt. Col. Shalimar Imperial, the former intelligence officer of 1oth ID.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, the former commanding officer of the 27th IB, resigned last week after learning about the decision rendered by higher command to subject his men for military trial.

Thirteen of his men, headed by a certain Lt. Dante Jimenez were directly involved in the massacre of the family of anti-mining leader Daguil Capion.  All of them were relieved from their post while waiting for the result of the court martial proceedings.

But Karapatan’s Sabella said the resignation of Bravo and the relief of Jimenez are not enough to give justice to the victims of Tampakan massacre.

He added that the proceeding that is being instituted by the higher command of the AFP is not enough to pay the senseless killing of Jovy, Daquil’s wife and her children.

“Pabayron ang atong demanda, una, mao ang pag-angkon sa salaud nga ilang nahimo ug pagsilot kanila sumala sa gibug-aton sa salaod nga ilang nahimo sa mga inosenteng sibilyan nga nawad-an og kinabuhi atol sa maong masaker (We demand that they admit to the crime; they should be punished for the loss of lives of the innocent civilians in the massacre),  he said.

Sabella also said Bravo and those in command in the higher echelon of the AFP are also guilty of the massacre in line with the principle of command responsibility.

“They must also pay and be punished,” Sabella added.

Meanwhile, in a message sent to, Sheena Duazo, the spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Southern Mindanao said nothing will change in the situation in Tampakan with the reported changing of battalions assigned in the area.

“Bisan pa man gipulihan na og laing batalyon, kung padayon ang pagpangyatak ug pagguba sa SMI-Xstrata sa katungod, yutang kabilin ug kinabuhi sa mga lumad ug tibuok katawhan sa Tampakan, walay mahitabong kabag-ohan sa kahimtang sa maong lugar (For as long as the SMI-Xstrata continues to trample and destroy the rights, ancestral lands and life of the indigenous people of Tampakan, the same dire situation of the people will continue),” Duazo said.

She added, “Ang among panawagan mao ang pag-pull out sa SMI-Xstrata ug military sa Tampakan ug paghatag hustisya sa mga biktima sa masaker sa Tampakan ug sa pagyatak sa ilang tawhanong katungod (We are calling for the pull-out of SMI-Xstrata and the military in Tampakan and justice for victims of Tampakan Massacre and human rights violations).”  (Alex D. Lopez/

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