[Appeal] Letter of concern regarding the investigations and processes undertaken by PNP and PA in the Capion killings -PAHRA

Chief, Human Rights Affairs Office
Philippine National Police
Chief, Human Rights Office,
Philippine Army

November 5, 2012


Warm greetings.

With due respect to the Kiblawan Philippine National Police (PNP) Progress Spot Reports and the Press Release of the 10th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army (PA), the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) would like to express its concern regarding the investigations and processes undertaken by both institutions.

PAHRA fears a possible suppression of data and glossing over of possible human rights violations and criminal liabilities by the 10th ID, PA and the Kiblawan PNP on what actually transpired in the Kiblawan Massacre last October 18, 2012 due to either lack of due diligence, thoroughness or transparency in their investigations and institutional procedures.

Comparing the results from the Fact-Finding Mission conducted by civil society and human rights defenders led by the Diocese of Marbel Social Action Center, the Kiblawan PNP Spot Reports and the 10th ID, PA Press Release, PAHRA’s analysis, among others, showed major discrepancies which could be vital to verifying what really happened in that bloody fateful day that killed Jordan and John Mark Capion y Malid and their mother, Juvy Capion y Malid, who was 2-3 months pregnant. These discrepancies were neither addressed in the PNP Progress Spot Reports nor in the Press Release.

A Philippine Army unit led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez from the 10th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, unaccompanied by any police, was supposed to serve a warrant of arrest against Daquil Capion. Closing in on the Capion family farm hut, which was located in the midst of an open field, four dispatched soldiers were “fired upon by shooters from the direction of the house prompting them to also return fire.”1 According to the Press Release, presumably based on the 6-page report and/or transcript of the PA Board of Inquiry, “there were 43 bullet entry holes on the hut alone but, based on the spot report, only 19 bullets were expended by the troops. However, the result of the investigation did not determine as to whose bullets killed the victims.”2

The above statement on ammunition expended by the troops insinuates that the difference of 23 bullet entry holes are coming from unknown sources firing at the Capion hut. There is no mention, much less an explanation, of these entry holes which exceeded the expended bullets in the Press Release. Were there other armed elements with the unit of 1Lt. Jimenez who fired at the Capion hut but whose weapons have not be accounted for? Why is he and his men not forthcoming about this fact? Is this a preparation of the public mind that, though fire-testing would still be conducted, the bullets that killed Juvy Capion and her two children did not come from his unit’s weapons and thus mitigate, if not absolve, 1Lt. Jimenez and his men?

When the police finally arrived at the scene of the tragedy, there was nothing in the progress spot report released3 by Arnold Bacaling Absin, Kiblawan Chief of Police, about the number of entry holes nor of any collection of 19 empty bullet casings supposedly expended by the army unit within the perimeter covered by the soldiers during the alleged exchange of fire.

In both the PA Press Release and the PNP Progress Spot Reports, there is obviously a lack of extraordinary due diligence and thoroughness in the investigation especially to do justice for the Capion deaths. Nowhere are the positions and movements of the contesting armed parties and that of the unarmed wife and children during the supposedly exchange of fire. There is just an over-all statement that the soldiers were “fired upon by shooters from the direction of the house prompting them to also return fire.

Was there any reason that justified the soldiers for firing into the part of the house or area that killed Juvy and her children? No bullet casings were found in that part of the hut to prove that gunfire was emanating from there to provoke retaliatory fire. Perhaps there were none in the first place. One sure thing was clear when relatives of the Capion family and the police arrived at the hut.

The place where the Capion’s bodies laid was already cleaned by the soldiers. Why?
Is this to pre-empt any possible damaging testimony that a survivor witness child4 could give regarding the supposed firefight?

It is strange that an Army Officer who has taken on himself the police power, perhaps wrongly, to serve a warrant of arrest had not obligated himself in implementing Command Responsibility both as Military and Police in preserving evidence. Rather, evidence, not without an order from and/or acquiescence by 1Lt. Jimenez, was tainted and destroyed by his men. This was not a “lapse of judgment” but a deliberately willed violation of the rule of law.

Instead of enhancing Command Responsibility, what seems to have happened is a Command Conspiracy between 1Lt. Jimenez and his men against the human and legal rights of the Capion family.

Has the Board of Inquiry (BOI) taken these facts into serious consideration in concluding that it was just a “tactical lapse” or “a lapse of judgment” on the part of 1Lt. Jimenez when evidences that could prove contrary to his action have been destroyed? If the latter action was disclosed to the BOI, did 1Lt. Jimenez include the detail that a relative witnessed the soldiers starting to remove the slain bodies and put them on the ground. And that they were strongly advised by the same relative: “ayaw lang ninyo ipababa, kay pamilya lang niya ang maghipos” (don’t put the bodies to the ground just let the families do it). Is this a failed case of internalization of a people-centered orientation of the AFP?

Furthermore, the dead body of Jordan was seen by the same witness lying face down on the ground a few meters away from the house where his mother and younger brother were slain. Details of the scene showed that Jordan was already taking his coffee when he was shot. Was Jordan not seen by the soldiers in their approach to the hut? Did the command and the soldiers care at all even if Jordan was seen at all before the former opened fire at the direction of the hut?

Why have the police not mentioned the foregoing facts in any of their Progress Spot Reports5 and followed up such evidences and diligently obtained the testimonies of witnesses?
Are the omissions deliberately paving the way to a cover-up as to whether there really has been an “encounter” or truth in the statement that soldiers were “fired upon by shooters from the direction of the house prompting them to also return fire.”6?

There is now an opportunity to move forward the paradigm shift of our security forces, particularly the 10th ID, PA, and the Kiblawan Police towards the primacy of human rights.
The Human Rights Officers of the concerned level of PA and PNP command should evaluate and report on the incidence from a human rights perspective. Such action would help in the internalization of human rights and international humanitarian law, and ultimately, the Rules of Engagement. If none of the HR Officers had been present in the sessions of the BOI, they should be invited to the General Court Marshall.

For the sake of transparency and justice, both for the Capion family, and for 1Lt. Dante Jimenez and his men, the Philippine Army should make available to the public the transcript and the 6-page report of the PA Board of Inquiry.

PAHRA suggests that in the coming conduct of a General Court Marshall, the Philippine Army should invite, in this case, the surviving witness and his guardian, counselor and legal counsel, as well as witnesses and their counsels in a converging effort to break impunity.

Thank you very much for your kind and objective consideration of this letter of concern. In no way may this note be construed other than ensuring the convergence of our efforts to realize what the 10th ID has in its website banner: “Sa Sundalo [at sa Pulis] Katungod Protektado?.

Justice and dignity for us all,

Max M. de Mesa
Chairperson, PAHRA

PSupt. Arnold Bacaling Absin
Chief PNP, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur

BGen Yerson E. Depayso
Human Rights Officer, 10th ID

Col. Manuel Felino Ramos
Human Rights Officer, 10th ID, 2 BDE

Maj. Gerald Monfort
Human Rights Officer, 27th IB

Gen. Domingo Tutaan, Jr.
Head, AFP Human Rights Office

Hon. Manuel Roxas, Jr.
Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government

Hon. Loreta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

Hon. Manuel Mamauag
CHRP Focal Commissioner for Mindanao

Atty. Jacquelyn Mejia
Executive Secretary, Commission on Human Rights

Atty. Christina Haw-Tay Jovero
Director, CHR Region 12

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