Support groups of anti-mining communities affected by the Tampakan Copper Gold Project condemn the dropping of the criminal charges against some members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 27th Infantry Battalion.
On October 18, 2012, Juvy Capion and her sons John and Jordan were killed in what the 27th IB considered as “operational lapses.”
In a resolution dated 5 August 2013, Prosecutor Jayson Banjal of Davao del Sur dismissed the murder case as “pieces of evidence submitted by the complainant were insufficient to establish probable cause” to charge Lt. Dante Jimenez and 15 other soldiers.
“This is outrageous! This is outright denial of justice not only for the Capions but all victims of killings and human rights violations by military personnel. This tells us that military agents can easily run away from criminal charges,”said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM).
For her part, Dr. Nymia Pimentel Simbulan, Executive Director of the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), said “the dismissal of the case against the [soldiers] is an outright travesty of justice and a clear indication of the kind of justice system that prevails in the country.”
Workers of the Social Action Center (SAC) of Marbel Diocese claimed they have documented the whole incident and according to the statements signed by the witnesses, the military operation was legitimate and planned to capture Daguil Capion, husband of Juvy and father of the two (2) children who were killed during the operation.
SAC-Marbel Advocacy Officer Rene Pamplona is calling on the national agencies, specifically the Department of Justice and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples “to intervene and not let this case pass.”
Moreover, he said documentary evidence gathered from witnesses, Commission on Human Rights Resolutions, Board of Inquiry of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the ongoing Court Marshall proceedings are strong enough for the case to stand in court.
The Capions were allegedly staunch critics of the Glencore-Xstrata controlled Sagittarius Mines Inc., whose operations in the area were recently “scaled down.”
On the other hand, the groups claimed human rights violations have continued, citing killing incidents including:
- January 29, 2013: Kitari Capion and Diyo Capion were killed during a raid conducted by Task Force KITACO.
- June 28, 2013: Eking Freay and his brother-in-law, Sonnny Boy Planda, were ambushed after selling corn and buying goods from Brgy. Kimlawis. Planda was killed on the spot.
- August 23, 2013: Anteng Freay and son Victor Freay, were killed near their home in Bulol Kalon allegedly by the members of the Division Reconnaissance Team of the 10th ID, PA, together with the members of the Task Force KITACO detailed in Datal Alyeng detachment.
“We call on the Aquino Administration to take this issue seriously – Tampakan is only one of the mine sites infested by military forces… resulting in different forms of violations – there should be pertinent actions… [on] this. It is about time that we focus on human rights overmining investments,” Garganera said.
Tampakan and nearby communities are militarized allegedly to protect the mining investments there.
ATM is part of the Tampakan Forum, a coalition of international and local organizations that serves as technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue. ATM is also part of the TAO MUNA, HINDI MINA Campaign.