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Priest blames mining company for family killing

Thirteen soldiers to face court martial over shootings

Fr. Peter Geremia, advocate for tribal people Fr. Peter Geremia, advocate for tribal people
  • Keith Bacongco, Kidapawan City
  • Philippines
  • November 5, 2012
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Officials of Sagittarius Mines should be held liable for the military's killing of a tribal family late last month, says an Italian missionary who has been working in Mindanao for four decades.

“SMI became the reason why the military intervened, why people are divided, why many people are afraid of losing water and land itself,” said Father Peter Geremia of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and coordinator of the Tribal Filipino Apostolate of the Kidapawan diocese.

Thirteen soldiers will face court martial over the killing of the family of a tribal leader who has led opposition to the gold and copper mine owned by Xstrata Copper and Indophil Resources NL of Australia, the military said last week.

An inquiry has found the soldiers were ''negligent'' and did not follow the rules of engagement. They may face life imprisonment if found guilty.

The killing of Daguil Capion's pregnant wife Juvy, 27, and sons Pop, 13, and John, 8, sparked outrage on Mindanao, where Xstrata Copper and Melbourne-based Indophil Resources plan to spend $5.7 billion building Southeast Asia's biggest gold and copper mine in Tampakan town.

A spokesman for Sagittarius Mines said it did not condone violence and was ''saddened'' by the killings.

Fr. Geremia, however, blamed mining operations in the area for the violence and the division among indigenous peoples in the area.

The priest said the soldiers involved in the killing "are no longer soldiers of the Philippines, but mercenaries of a foreign company that pays to kill anyone in its way."

The military insisted that the victims were killed in a legitimate encounter between troops and Capion’s group, whom the military tagged as bandits.

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