The Philippines: Karapatan assails dismissal of murder raps vs soldiers in massacre of mother, 2 sons

MANILA, Philippines –  Human rights group Karapatan on Tuesday assailed the dismissal by a provincial prosecutor of murder charges against soldiers in the October 2012 massacre of a B’laan mother and her two children in Davao del Sur, despite firm testimony by witnesses who heard some of them discuss “finishing off” one of the children.

Juvy Capion, 28, and her sons Jordan, 13, and John Mark, 6 were killed when soldiers strafed a house where they were staying with the father of the family, Dagil, a tribal leader who set up an armed group against the government over an illegal mining issue in their place in Barangay KImlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur.

Dagil, the real target, escaped death by jumping out of the window.

The military had insisted that what took place on October 18, 2012, a “legitimate encounter.”

He and some B’laans were opposing the intrusion of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) into their ancestral domain.

In a statement reacting to the dismissal of the murder charges against soldiers, Karapatan secretary general Christina Palabay said Prosecutor Artemio Tajon had disregarded statements of several witnesses which pin down the soldiers. She said one witness “even heard the soldiers talk about ‘finishing off’ a child who survived the massacre so no witness remains. Witnesses attested how the military cordoned off the area, having sole control over the crime scene and the lifeless bodies.”

The Office of the Provincial Prosecution in Digos City earlier issued a resolution finding no probable cause against Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, Lt. Dante Jimenez and 14 other members of the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion.

Palabay said the  resolution was of a piece with the government’s pattern in  “exonerating perpetrators of human rights violations. Impunity reigns.”

Palabay said the dismissal “illustrates how lopsided is our justice system in favor of those in power.”