Mayor warns of retaliation in wake of killing of tribal leader’s kinInquirer Mindanao
DIGOS CITY, Philippines – Mayor Marivic Diamante of Kiblawan warned Saturday that the killing of the wife and children of B’laan tribal anti-mining activist Dagil Capion could lead to the declaration of a “pangayaw,” a tribe-instigated war, in her town and neighboring municipality of Tampakan in South Cotabato.
This was the same reason why, Diamante said, she had ordered the local police to brace themselves for the worst.
Diamante acknowledged that Dagil commanded a following among B’laan tribesmen and because of this, it was not far-fetched that would wage a pangayaw against government forces.
“We are now preparing for this,” she said.
Diamante said the hunt for Dagil, who was reportedly injured in the same incident in which his wife and two children were killed, has been intensified and the local governments of Kiblawan and Tampakan were offering a reward of P300,000 for his capture, dead or alive.
“I appeal to the people to please cooperate with us in capturing (Dagil) so we could bring back peace and order to this town,” she told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
Contrary to claims by human rights groups, Diamante said Dagil was a plain bandit who led cattle-rustling and robberies in areas bordering Kiblawan and Tampakan, and was never an anti-mining activist.
She said even before Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) came to the areas, he was already engaged in banditry.
Diamante said she knew Dagil from years back. “Dagil was my [political] supporter before, she said.
But a source said Diamante was mistaken as it was not Dagil who became a bandit when SMI’s predecessor, the Australian firm Western Mining Corp., was still operating in the area but a relative named Dot Capion.
It was only after his uncle-in-law Gorelmin Malid was murdered in 2002 and alleged WMC-led harassment of B’laan communities intensified that Dagil took up arms, said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
“Dagil and Dot’s activities happened almost simultaneously in the past. The difference was that Dot gained financially while Dagil gained notoriety,” he said.
The source said when SMI came in in 2004 it lured Dot Capion into cooperating with the company by recognizing him as a B”laan tribal leader and offered him economic packages. It was the same reason Dot Capion stopped engaging in banditry, the source said.
Rita Dialang, a sister of Dagil, said her brother was among the more affluent B’laan, owning several hectares of land and two motorcycles.
“If you have that kind of status, do you need to prey on helpless people just to make a living?” she said.
The human rights group Karapatan said what made the killings more painful, not only to the Capion clan but other B’laan as well, was the fact that soldiers exposed the cadavers of his “murdered” family under extreme heat to force him to surrender. This was the height of disrespect, the human rights group said.
“After the massacre, the soldiers brought the bodies outside the house, laid them on the ground up to 3 p.m., exposed to the elements for eight hours, to compel Dagil to surrender,” said Pas tor Sadrach Sabella, spokesperson of Karapatan in the South Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani-General Santos area.
“It was only later that soldiers already allowed the relatives to get the remains,” he said.
The same claim was also contained in the report prepared by a fact-finding mission, which included Karapatan and the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Marbel, which was shown to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Major Jacob Obligado, 10th ID civil-military operations officer, said all claims were being included in the investigation being conducted by the Board of Inquiry, which Brigadier General Ariel Bernardo, commander of the 10th ID, had formed.
Obligado said in the meantime, the Army’s concern was to provide assistance to the Capion family in coordination with the local tribal council and providing security in the area.
(Reports from Orlando Dinoy, Germelina Lacorte and Aquiles Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao)