Wife and 2 children of tribal anti-mining activist killed by gov’t forcesBy Orlando Dinoy
DIGOS CITY, Philippines—The wife and two young children of a B’laan leader opposed to the entry of Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc. in South Cotabato and Davao del Sur were killed in what the military claimed was a firefight between a group of tribal ‘bandits’ and a combined force of Army soldiers and policemen early Thursday morning.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexis Bravo, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion, told the Inquirer that his men along with police operatives—all together the government forces numbered about 30—went to Sitio Alyong in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, after receiving information that B’laan anti-mining activist Daguil Capion was in the area.
Capion, along with his brothers Batas and Kitara, is wanted by the authorities for a number of attacks on law enforcers in an area straddling the boundaries of Tampakan, South Cotabato, and Kiblawan, Davao del Sur. The brothers have also been accused of leading attacks on SMI personnel and facilities to stop the company from pursuing a $5.9 million gold and copper project in the area, which the B’laan claim to be part of their ancestral domain.
The Capion brothers are regarded by the authorities as bandits.
Bravo said at 6 a.m. the soldiers and the policemen positioned themselves around a hut where Daguil Capion was suspected to be hiding, and immediately they were fired upon. He said the government forces fired back and engaged Capion and his followers in a brief firefight.
When the firing ended and the smoke cleared, Bravo said, the government troops discovered that the B’laan tribesmen supposedly led by Capion had slipped past them.
The soldiers conducted a clearing operation and it was then that the soldiers found the bodies of Capion’s wife and two sons, Bravo said, without providing the names of the fatalities.
“We did not know they were inside the hut because we came under fire,” he said.