Anti-mining tribe leader’s wife, 2 sons killed in ‘encounter’

Edwin G. Espejo
The wife and two sons of an anti-mining tribal leader are killed in a supposed encounter with the Army in Davao del Sur

BETTER TIMES. A smiling Juvy Capion, wife of a fugitive tribal leader, in a photo taken by Bong Sarmiento in July 2012
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The wife and two sons of an anti-mining tribal leader were killed in a reported encounter between B’laan tribesmen and the Philippine Army early Thursday, October 18, in Davao del Sur.

Slain were Juvy Capion, 28, wife of fugitive tribal leader Dagil Capion, and her sons Jordan (13 years old) and John Mark (6).

A report quoted Lt Col Alexis Noel Bravo as saying that members of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion were fired upon by armed men believed to be led by Dagil Capion, as the troops arrived in Sitio Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis in the town of Kiblawan del Sur. The Army soldiers reportedly received information on the presence of the fugitive tribal leader in the area.

But local radio station dxMD said they were able to interview Batas Capion, brother of Dagil Capion, who claimed the military arrived early Thursday morning and started firing after waking up the victims.

Batas Capion said his brother was able to escape by jumping out of the window.

Batas, himself also a fugitive, said he was also able to escape.

Several other tribesmen were said to have been injured, including Dagil, as a firefight reportedly broke out between the military and Capion’s armed supporters.

Campaign vs SMI

Dagil Capion is leading several armed B’laan tribesman who are opposing the operation of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in the hinterlands of Kiblawan, Davao del Sur. Kiblawan is among the towns covered by the drilling and exploration activities of SMI.

Capion has even admitted responsibility in at least two ambushes that killed at least two SMI security guards and 3 drilling contractors.

The military however said Capion is a bandit who resorted to armed robbery after he was denied work in the company.

Capion used to own a variety store which was doing well before he took up arms against SMI, which he claims is encroaching on their ancestral land.

SMI, a company controlled by Swiss-based Xstrata Plc, operates the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project, said to be one of the world’s largest untapped deposits of gold and copper.

Its mining development area however is covered by at least 5 ancestral domain claims, mostly belong to the B’laan tribe.

SMI also operates in Tampakan in South Cotabato, Malungon in Sarangani and Columbio in Sultan Kudarat.

The 3 Catholic dioceses serving these areas are however opposed to the operations of SMI.

Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Dicoce of Marbel and the prelates of Kidapawan and Digos have called on President Benigno Aquino III to stop the operation of SMI to avert the escalation of violence in the area. –

Read the Blog on the 2012 Mining Conference for a blow-by-blow account of issues being discussed.

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