Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 1st, 2012
SOME TWO weeks after an Army unit killed the wife and two sons of a B’laan tribal leader in Davao del Sur, the Armed Forces announced that the 13 soldiers involved—one lieutenant and 12 enlisted men—would be tried before a military court. We welcome the news, and the unprecedented dispatch with which the decision to begin court-martial proceedings was reached. But at the same time, we realize that the court-martial is only the beginning. The road to justice for the pregnant Juvy Capion and her sons Jordan, 13, and Jan-Jan, 8, remains long and tortuous.
All of the accounts that relate the events of Oct. 18, even the statements attributed to military spokesmen, agree that the three victims were—to use the noncommittal language of bureaucracy—collateral damage. They were killed when a unit of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion, in pursuit of Juvy’s husband, the tribal leader Dagil Capion, fired upon them.
According to a relative and neighbor of Juvy’s, Rita Capion Dialang, she heard a short burst of gunfire at around six in the morning of Oct. 18 in the direction of the Capion family’s hut. When she and others reached the place, they saw the victims, with the soldiers standing around. “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,” Dialang said.
Right from the start, the Army had insisted that Dagil fired on the soldiers. But even the initial statements of the battalion commander showed that he knew the accidental nature of the killings. “We did not know there were unarmed civilians inside,” Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo said.
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