"It was a massacre and not an encounter," said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan belying claims of Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, head of the 27th IB of the Philippine Army that a Blaan woman, Juvy Capion, 27, and her two sons, John , 8, and Pop, 13 were killed in a gunfight.
Initial reports that reached the Karapatan national office indicated that on October 17, Juvy Capion, daughter Vicky, 5, and her two sons went to their farm and spent the night in Fayahlob, Sitio Datal-Ayong, Bgy. Danlag, Tampakan, South Cotabato because they did not finish their day's work. The following day, On October 18, at around 6 a.m., the four were still inside the hut when elements of the 27th IB arrived, and sprayed bullets on the hut, killing Juvy Capion and her two sons. Vicky was wounded.
"There was no gunfight between the military and Juvy's husband Dagil as the military claimed. This lie is being peddled to justify the killings and exonerate the military officials and personnel from accountability," said Palabay. The military said that Dagil Capion, a B'laan tribal leader, has taken up arms against the Xstrata- Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI). At the time of the incident, Dagil, who is said to be the military's target, was working on their farm. He was also wounded but managed to escape.
After the massacre, the bodies of Vicky and her two sons were laid out on the ground and left exposed to the elements for eight hours, until 3 p.m., reportedly to force Dagil to surrender. Later, the soldiers allowed Capion's relatives to bring home the remains.
Juvy Capion was a member of Kalgad, an organization of the Blaan tribe that is opposed to the entry of Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI) as there are about 30,000 Blaan who will be displaced from their ancestral lands with the entry and operation of Xstrata-SMI.
SMI is touted to be the biggest mining investor in the country with U$5.9 billion investment largely in Tampakan, South Cotabato. The SMI is owned by the Australia-based Xstrata Copper, believed to the the fourth largest global copper producer.
"We call on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to order the complete pullout of the 27th IB and other paramilitary groups from the Lumad communities. The military and paramilitary forces serve as company guards and they have harassed, threatened and intimidated the Lumad who are opposed to the SMI operation," said Palabay.
The 27th IB is based in Tupi, South Cotabato while the paramilitary groups, specifically the Special Armed Auxilliary has a mandate from the Malacañang as they are force multipliers in the protection and security of mining companies such as the SMI.
Palabay said that Karapatan is "alarmed with the spate of killings among the indigenous peoples who, naturally and logically, oppose the operation of foreign-owned, large-scale mining corporations, as these operations are in their ancestral lands, depriving them of their source of livelihood, and therefore, their life and desecrating their culture."