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Militant groups unhappy with court-martial of soldiers in B’laan killings

/ 03:42 PM November 02, 2012

Spokesman of the 10th Infantry Division Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza: Capion is bandit. Photo from http://rudedolfo.blogspot.com

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Militant groups said Friday the court-martial proceedings the military has announced against 13 soldiers involved in the Oct. 18 killing of the wife and two children of a B’laan anti-mining activist in Davao del Sur was not enough.

Ryan Lariba of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chapter in the South Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat-Sarangani (Socksargen) area said in a statement that an independent investigation of the killings would settle the issue against the military.

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While hunting down  Dagil Capion, who has been waging an armed resistance against Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc., a team of soldiers from the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion killed the anti-mining B’laan leader’s wife, Juvy, and two of the couple’s children, Pop, 13, and John, 8, last Oct. 18.

A subsequent incident report released by the Eastern Mindanao Command said the soldiers were responding to an aggression and did not know that Juvy and the two children were in the hut they peppered with automatic rifle shots.

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The Eastmincom said the deaths of Capion’s wife and two sons were the result of an encounter between the soldiers and a band led by Capion.

As the outrage over the killings snowballed, the Eastmincom’s 10th Infantry Division, the unit that has direct supervision over the 27th IB, announced that it was conducting an inquiry into the incident.

Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, 10th ID spokesperson, later said the military investigation found that the soldiers involved had committed tactical lapses.

Paniza said the investigating team had recommended court-martial proceeding against Lt. Dante Jimenez, Sergeants Dennis Murillo and Rommel Ballenas; Corporals Robert Godio, Ayiha Namla, Brucekhan Sahali, Bashir Said,  Julah Majid and Jemson Jadjuli; and privates first class Marlowe Gayamot, Joel Lopez, Darryl Tayamora and Richard Julian.

They were charged under the Articles of War, he said.

But Lariba said the result of the military inquiry effectively absolved higher-ranking military officers, who had direct supervision of the unit involved in the killings.

“There has to be an independent body that should conduct an investigation, and it should not include the AFP,” he said.

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The environment group Panalipdan said the investigation should not stop at the erring soldiers but should also include the “higher ups” under the virtue of command responsibility.

“The investigation must include the commander of the 27th IB, Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo and 10th ID commander Maj. Gen. Ariel Bernardo,” Panalipdan said in a separate statement.

Aside from demanding an independent probe, Lariba said soldiers and militiamen should also be pulled out of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur and Tampakan, South Cotabato “to prevent more abuses against the anti-mining communities” there.

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