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Tribal leader's family shot dead

Wife and children caught up in firefight with troops

An armed tribesman near Tampakan in Davao del Sur province (Photo by Joe Torres) An armed tribesman near Tampakan in Davao del Sur province (Photo by Joe Torres)
  • Bong Sarmiento and Kerima Bulan T. Navales, Koronadal City
  • Philippines
  • October 18, 2012
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The wife and two children of a man wanted for leading an armed struggle against a mining operation in Davao del Sur province were killed today during a firefight.

Juvy Capion, 28, and her two sons, aged 13 and six, were killed in the crossfire as government troops entered the village of Kimlawis near Tampakan in pursuit of husband and father Daguel Capion.

A tribal leader and fierce opponent of a local mine belonging to Sagittarius Mines Inc., Capion has been waging what has become a violent and deadly campaign against the company. He accuses it of disrespecting the rights of B’laan tribesmen in the area.

The military said they moved in after receiving a tip-off that Capion was in the village.

"Our troops were fired upon while approaching the area so they retaliated," said Lieutenant-Colonel Alexis Noel Bravo, the local army commander.

He said Capion’s family members were killed during the gunfight which ended when armed tribesmen retreated into a nearby forest.

An unidentified woman was also reported hit in the crossfire and Capion was reported injured in the incident.

The killings drew an angry response from rights and anti-mining groups.

"We strongly condemn this barbaric and treacherous act by the military," said Jaybee Garganera, coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina - Alliance to Stop Mining.

"It was well known that Capion is not a rebel, not a member or supporter of either the Communist insurgents or Muslim rebel groups. He is a B’laan warrior tasked by his clan to protect ancestral domains."

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates said the military operation was a "gross violation of human rights which resulted in unnecessary loss of life."

"We call on the government and the Commission on Human Rights to immediately investigate these killings and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Max de Mesa, the group's chairman.

Tribal people and Communist rebels strongly oppose the mining activities of Sagittarius Mines with several clashes having taken place over the past few years.

In June, B’laan tribesmen staged an ambush, killing a consultant from the mining company, a police escort and a security guard.

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