Army insists antimining activist a bandit leader
So is he a bandit or a tribal leader?
The Philippine Army continues to insist a supposed antimining activist is a bandit leader wanted for a string of crimes, even as it will put on trial 13 soldiers in connection with the deaths of Dagil Capion’s wife and two children two weeks ago in Davao del Sur.
Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division in Davao City, said antimining groups had been insistently “connecting” Capion to their movement and had “capitalized” on the deaths of his wife and children.
“That’s the problem, because police records show that Capion has long been wanted for a string of crimes,” Paniza told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
The division spokesperson said Capion was wanted for the murder of three people and was a cattle rustler as well.
Antimining groups, on the other hand, have described Capion as a B’laan tribe leader opposed to large-scale mining.
Asked if the soldiers’ court martial was aimed at appeasing those blaming the military for the deaths of Capion’s family, Paniza said, “No.”
“The Army investigated the incident because civilians were killed. We cannot turn a blind eye to it. Our soldiers have to answer why this happened. We would determine [what] took place,” Paniza said.
He said Capion’s wife and children also deserved to get justice and should not be considered merely “collateral damage” in the encounter. “They should not suffer for the notoriety of (Capion),” Paniza said.
He said military and police investigators had established that there was a legitimate encounter between Capion and the 13 soldiers on Oct. 18 in Kiblawan town, Davao del Sur.
The shooting happened in front of Capion’s house but he managed to escape. His pregnant wife, Juvy, and their children, Pop, 13, and John, 8, who were inside, were killed. Another child, 7-year-old Vicky, was wounded.
The Army, meanwhile, has asked the public not to draw any conclusions just yet.
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