THE CAPION MASSACRE
The Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP) express its deep concerns regarding information from the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) about the killing of a B’laan tribal leader who fought against the entry of a mining company, including the death of her two (2) sons and wounding of her lone daughter.
The incident happened on October 18, 2012, at aroung 6:30am in Sitio Fayahlob, Barangay Datal Aliong, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, Mindanao. Based on reports, members of the Philippine Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez trooped towards the scene and allegedly strafed the house of the victims using their automatic rifles. Killed instantly were Juvy Capion-27 (sustained gunshot wounds at left leg and left upper portion of the chest) who was three months pregnant, Jordan Capion-13 (gunshot wounds at his forehead) and John Capion-8 (gunshot wounds at the right portion of his head). Also during the incident, Juvy’s younger daughter Vicky Capion-4, was wounded while a close kin named Ressa Piang-11, luckily escaped unhurt but apparently suffering from severe trauma.
The military claimed that the victims were caught between crossfire when they pursued their attempt to serve an arrest warrant and capture Daguil Capion (husband of Juvy) and his supposed companions which allegedly resulted to exchanges of gunshots. Before being hunt by police and soldiers, Daguil is a staunch critic of mining in their area. Authorities said that Daguil is already an outlaw. He is currently facing multiple murder charges in relation to 2010 ambush of three (3) construction workers of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI).
But according to witnesses, no traces of Daguil and companions during the alleged firefight, and that victims were the only persons inside the house when the army started to fire gunshots indiscriminately. And yet after the strafing of the house the perpetrators allegedly poked their rifles towards the survivors Vicky and Ressa. Soldiers threatened to kill them too.
As we carefully followed the circumstances surrounding the incident based on the accounts of the witnesses, it is clear that the military blatantly abuse its discretion and consciously violates its own protocols and procedures:
Indeed the soldiers knew that there were civilians inside the house when the indiscriminate shooting happened. Weeks before the incident, soldiers are regularly conducting roving patrol in the area and have established familiarization in the community. From then on, we perceived that they already identified residents and their respective houses including that of the victims. Undoubtedly the soldiers violated several provisions under the International Humanitarian Law which our country is a signatory. Those provisions include: the prohibition of targeting civilians as non-combatants; acts or threats of violence to spread terror among civilian population; target verification; indiscriminate attacks and method or means of combat without distinction; an attack which resulted to incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects; and many others;
The military violated their own rules of engagement or manual. No advance warning. Since the situation requires for it, soldiers should have warned the enemy to surrender and their intention to attack the place, so that the noncombatants and especially the women and children were immediately removed before the bombardment commenced;
No coordination with the local officials and the police. The serving of an arrest warrant is a police matter. The soldiers should have informed police officers to assist them before pursuing their effort to arrest the suspect. The head of an attacking force, in an open assault or not, must, before undertaking its move, should have made an effort to give notice thereof to the local authorities;
Violation of the Presidential Decree 1829 specifically on “Altering, destroying, suppressing or concealing any paper, record, document, or object, with intent to impair its verity, authenticity, legibility, availability, or admissibility as evidence in any investigation of or official proceedings in, criminal cases, or to be used in the investigation of, or official proceedings in, criminal cases.” Soldiers already removed several blood stains splattered inside the victims’ house. Clothes of the victims were thrown outside the house. When the police investigators arrived, the crime scene was already been disturbed.
Aside from the said violations, as a matter of command responsibility the government is accountable for what these soldiers had wrongfully executed. It breached several international commitments that our government vows to abide, these are:
Violation in relation to the United Nation (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Through the years the community of the B’laan tribe led by Juvy fought against the Sagittarius Mines Incorporated (SMI)- a mining firm started to operate within their ancestral domain. Juvy together with other local leaders held several campaigns and lobby activities to encourage support from the local government. They also educate the people about the environmental harm, the displacements of residents and lose of livelihood, once the SMI fully establish its operations.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (The right to self determination, means of subsistence, non-discrimination, etc.)
Violation in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 8 – protection against armed conflict).
And to add insult to injury, the regional office of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) apparently did not acted with urgency when non-government organizations (NGOs) requested an investigation of the incident. According to NGOs, they were advised that CHR’s investigation will commence once procedures have been observed.
We could not imagine how soldiers brutally killed one family. A pregnant woman and human rights defender, and two innocent young boys both minors.
We could not imagine how tragic the victims had gone through. They were all helpless.
We could not imagine the pain and sorrow left for victims’ loved ones mainly to Juvy’s daughter Vicky who survived the massacre.
It is insane that there are members of the security forces who thirst for blood and kill innocent people just to achieve their purpose.
It is a sham that these kind soldiers continuously being sheltered by our very own institution pretending to be protectors of the people.
It is a shame for our government not to seriously address human rights violations despite several international instruments signed, and since statistics are increasing from the time President Benigno Aquino III assumed office.
HRDP condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of Juvy, Jordan and John. We share our sincerest empathy to the victims’ families and the B’laan tribe for the loss of their loved ones. We hope more courage for the survivors facing their current ordeal. We salute the community in continuously defending their sacred land.
Justice for the Killing of Juvy, Jordan and John!
Hold Accountable and Prosecute Perpetrators!
End Impunity Now!
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