Human rights advocates demand justice for IP killings this Undas
“On Undas, let us remember the dead, pray for the souls of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) brutally killed, and demand justice from the government.”
This is the call of the human rights advocates and environmental groups who trooped to Camp Aguinaldo, carrying mock coffin and funeral wreaths bearing the names of some of the IPs killed during the Aquino administration.
“As Pres. Aquino remembers his own dead loved ones this Undas, we also urge him to remember the names of numerous IP children, women and men who were brutally killed under his administration. Among them are Jordan and John Capion, B’laan boys aged 13 and 8, killed along with their mother, Juvy, by the military men under the command of 27th Infantry Batallion,” says Judy A. Pasimio, coordinator of LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights). “But we also urge him to bring justice to these poor souls.”
The killings of the B’laan family, known as the Capion Massacre, happened three years ago, in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, while the family was in their hut, early morning, with the family still sleeping. Thirteen soldiers strafed the hut, even as Juvy was shouting to stop as there were children inside. The AFP maintained that it was a “legitimate encounter.”
The soldiers were relieved from their post because of “operational lapses”, and investigations are still ongoing. But according to Max de Mesa, chair of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocate (PAHRA), “Thorough and extraordinary due diligence was not given to the investigation to obtain the truth of the Capion massacre. The technical exoneration of involved security forces has led more to entrenching injustice and impunity.”
“The killing of the Capion family was closely linked with the B’laan struggle against the Tampakan Mining Project within their ancestral domain. Indeed, mining kills,” Pasimio said.
Aside from the Capion family, several indigenous leaders have been killed because of their defense of their right to their ancestral domain, and from extractive industries such as mining: Timuay Leoncio Arig, a Teduray from Upi, Maguindanao; Datu Fausto Orasan, a Higaonon from Cagayan de Oro, both were shot dead last year for their strong position against mining encroachment in their lands. Sheryl Ananayo, Ifugao from Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, was killed in 2013 because of land conflicts brought about by the Oceania Gold Mining. The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) puts the number at 32 of indigenous leaders within its network killed under the Aquino administration because of their struggle to protect their resources.
“The IP killings expose the real risks and threats faced by communities who resist mining. We hold the government accountable for its failure to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples, and we reject the government policy on endorsing the deployment of police, military and para-military to protect mining investments,” says Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of ATM. “We demand that Aquino immediately cancel all mining contracts particularly those that have documented cases of violence, human rights violations and killings of IPs. To this end, we demand Congress to immediately pass a new mining law such as the Alternative Minerals Management Bill (AMMB) to address the issues and concerns of IPs related to mining.”
The AMMB has its version both in the lower house of Congress and Senate. While Aquino expressed support to this bill during his presidential campaign, this has not been certified as urgent, nor has been endorsed by Malacanang.
Rene Pamplona, Justice and Peace Coordinator, SAC Diocese of Marbel, said, “The mindset of the government is to utilize all untapped minerals for economic development. This runs contrary to the IP concept of development – watershed protection, abundance of forest resources, respect to the right to self-determination and customary laws. For the IPs, this kind of development is worth dying for. But the government continues to mindlessly invade IP territories in the name of development aggression.”
The protesters lay down the coffin in front of the gate of Camp Aguinaldo, and said prayers for the dead. They also shouted for justice.
Edel Garingan, anti-mining campaigner of Phil. Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI) says, “We are hoping that impunity, injustices and IP Killings will not be part of the things that PNoy will hand over to the next administration.”
“As he leaves the Malacanang office, Aquino should pave the way in bringing justice to the victims of IP killings. ”
ATM, LILAK and PAHRA are members of the Tampakan Forum, a network of groups supporting the struggle of the B’laan community and the campaign of the Diocese of Marbel’s social action center against the mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato. The PMPI serves as the network’s secretariat.
For more information please contact:
ED GARINGAN, PMPI Project Officer for Anti-mining Campaign, 0922.850.1875, firstname.lastname@example.org
PRIMO MORILLO, PMPI Advocacy Officer, 09228501874, email@example.com
JUDY PASIMIO, LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), 09175268341, firstname.lastname@example.org
CHECK ZABALA, ATM Media and Communications Officer, 0927.623.5066, email@example.com
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