Kin of tribal leader cry ‘massacre’
GENERAL SANTOS CITY—The deaths of Dagil Capion’s wife and two children from the hands of soldiers on Thursday were so painful that a pangayaw (tribal war) is not remote, the sister of Capion said.
Rita Dialang, younger sister of Capion, told the Inquirer by phone that what was more painful for them was the fact that Juvy, who was 2 months’ pregnant, her children Pop, 13, and John, 8, were mercilessly killed.
“Pangayaw is very possible because it is not only our family, which is hurting deeply. Our people are in pain, too. They were asking what sin Juvy and her children had committed to deserve such deaths,” Dialang, also the family spokesperson, said in Visayan.
For the B’laan, she said, the massacre was very depressing but had not weakened their resolve to fight for their rights and their way of life against aggression.
According to the Capion family, Dagil has been waging a tribal-sanctioned war against the intrusion of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), which allegedly caused massive displacements among the B’laan people at the boundary of Tampakan, South Cotabato, and Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.
Dialang, who lives in a community adjacent to Sitio Alyong in Barangay Kimlawis in Kiblawan, where the killing took place, said she was awakened by the shooting on Thursday.
“We heard the gunshots from the direction of Dagil’s house so we rushed outside. We saw human figures in dark clothes outside Dagil’s house,” she said.
She said the uphill climb to the house took nearly an hour.
“The soldiers were still there when we arrived. Dagil’s neighbors were already in the area,” Dialang said.
Based on what neighbors had told her and members of the Capion clan, Dagil was not in the house when the soldiers “strafed” it, she said. “So he was not injured, contrary to the claims of the military.”
By all accounts, Dialang said, the killings were not the result of an encounter as the military had been claiming.
“It was a massacre. They were unarmed and sleeping. Dagil was not around and nobody from our family’s side could have started the fire fight,” she said.
Dialang said the soldiers could be standing close to Juvy and her children. Her sister-in-law and her two sons suffered bullet wounds in the head.
Vicky, 7, survived the attack with an injury in the lower part of the body, she said.
Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, commander of the 27th Infantry Battalion whose unit was involved in the incident, said the victims were killed in a crossfire. The soldiers responded as they were being fired upon by Dagil and his men, Bravo said.
“We did not know there were unarmed civilians inside,” he said, adding that the military had launched an operation against Dagil, who is being sought for murder and other crimes.
Bravo said the soldiers had been relieved and recalled back to headquarters for investigation into “possible operational lapses.”
Dialang said Dagil, along with her brothers Kitari and Batas, were being persecuted for defending the B’laan. “They are not engaged in banditry as authorities have been claiming,” she said.
Dialang said brothers decided to stand up against abuses, including the murder in 2002 of another relative by alleged government agents. “Before, we just agreed to what influential people would ask us to do. But now, we are fighting,” she said.
The Capion family has been leading the B’laan since time immemorial, Dialang said. Tribe members would often seek help from her family to address problems.
Batas is the recognized “settler,” while Kitari, the youngest of the Capion siblings, provided assistance. Dagil is the fighter among the siblings and has been leading the armed struggle against SMI and people perceived to be protecting its interest, Dialang said.
“The words of moneyed people are what the public tends to believe. Because we are poor, we are plain bandits even if what we are doing is in defense of our ancestral domain and our way of life,” she said.
Maj. Jacob Obligado, 10th ID civil-military operations officer, said all claims were being included in the investigation being conducted by the Board of Inquiry formed by Brig. Gen. Ariel Bernardo, division commander.
Obligado said the Army’s concern was to provide assistance to the Capion family in coordinating with the tribal council and beefing up security in the area. Aquiles Zonio and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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