2 November 2012
H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Dear Mr. President,
Greetings from the Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders Network in Asia!
We express our condemnation on the unabated killings of indigenous leaders including women and children and our disappointment with the Philippine government’s slow and almost nil action towards these cases of killings of indigenous peoples. This is the third time in two months that we are writing the Philippine government to express our concern and condemnation on these spates of killings and we are yet to hear of any positive action on this.
Yet again, we have received reliable reports and as reported in media outlets the brutal killing of Juvy Capion and her two children in their house in the village of Fayahlob, Sitio Datal-Alyong , Brgy Danlag, Tampakan, South Cotabato last October 18 at 6 AM in the morning allegedly by members of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, commanded by a certain Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo. According to the report, on October 18, 2012 at about 6:00 o’clock in the morning, the soldiers entered the village in full battle gear and strafed the house of Capion’s family. This caused the sudden death of Juvy Capion , 27 years old and two-months pregnant at the time of her death, and her children Jan Jan Capion and Jorge Capion, 13 and 8 years old respectively. Her 5 year-old daughter, Vicky Capion, survived the attack with minor injuries.
Right after the massacre, members of the AFP brought the dead bodies of the victims outside the house and laid on the ground exposed for eight (8) hours to compel Daguil Capion, the husband of Juvy, to surrender. The soldiers later allowed the relatives of the victims to get the remains.
Daguil Capion was the initial target of the AFP because of his strong opposition to large scale mining in the area. Daguil and the whole of Bong Mal community composed of around 18 clans have consistently opposed the entry of mining since the mid-90s when the Western Mining Corporation tried to enter their territory. Western Mining Corporation was eventually bought by Sagittarius Mining Incorporated, which the community continued to oppose. Because of the continuing intrusion of mining companies into their ancestral territory, they had no choice but to declare a “pangayaw” to defend their ancestral territory. The pangayaw (tribal war) is a traditional practice of the B’laan’s to defend their tribe and their territories.
Juvy Capion took on the role as the breadwinner of their family after Daguil and other members of the B’laan tribe declared pangayaw. Juvy was also a respected leader of the community and an active member of KALGAD, an organization actively involved in asserting their rights as indigenous peoples and continuing to campaign against the entry of mining in their communities.
The ongoing investigation on this case by the military court is a welcome development but justice will only be achieved in this if there would be a more in-depth investigation on the root cause of the issue.
In addition to our call for justice for Juvy and her children, we likewise express our deep concern Ms. Erita Capion-Dialang, who has been under threat since the killing of her sister-in-law. Juvy Capion. Ms. Dialang is the chairperson of the indigenous peoples’ organization KALGAD.
We reiterate our belief that the threats and the recent killings of indigenous peoples who are asserting their rights over their ancestral territories is a systematic attack being made on indigenous peoples communities and their leaders that is meant to stifle their opposition and struggle to defend their ancestral lands from destructive development projects. We are alarmed that these continuous attacks, if not addressed by state authorities, will lead to more violations to the rights of indigenous peoples and would put women and children in a very vulnerable state as they are the easy targets in militarized areas.
We reiterate our recommendations and calls for His Excellency Benigno Aquino III and other concerned government agencies and institutions to:
- Immediately conduct a thorough and impartial investigation on the killing of Juvy Capion, Janjan Capion and Jorge Capion and the other indigenous leaders and activists killed before them and prosecute without impunity all those involved. The investigation should not just look into the act itself but also on the root cause of the issue.
- Provide immediate relief and security to the families of the victims who continue to be under threat.
- Immediately order the dismantling of paramilitary forces in the country and the pull out of AFP units based in or near indigenous communities and schools.
- Immediately issue an Executive Order for the establishment of an interagency Task Force on IP Killings to be spearheaded by the NCIP and allocate funds thereof for the investigation of cases of extrajudicial killings against indigenous leaders and activists, filing of appropriate charges to those responsible and establish the trends on the killings and provide policy recommendations for policy reforms in relation to the protection and respect of the rights of indigenous peoples.
- Invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Killings and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to investigate the killings.
It is our hope that your administration will also give priority to the promotion and protection of the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples in our country.
Hon. Severo Catura
Presidential Human Rights Committee
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
FAX: +63- 2 734 6761
Hon. Teddy Baguilat
National Cultural Communities Committee of the 15th Congress
House of Representatives
Batasan Complex, Quezon City
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Hon. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Direct Line No.: 521-1908
Trunkline No.: 523-8481 loc. 211/214
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Zenaida Brigida Hamada Pawid
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
West Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines