this article reflects the personal view of the author and not of the institutions he belongs to _______________________ THE TAMPAKAN MASSACRE
Dear President Aquino, you must see these gruesome photos because they represent what is happening in Tampakan, South Cotabato where Xstrata-SMI has an application for a mining project. Members of a family leading the opposition against the mining project were killed in cold blood. Could they be a symbol of our brand of ‘development’, which is for government and for multinatinals, not for Filipinos?
John Capion, 8 years old, shot close range while embracing his mother in bed inside their farm house at the crack of dawn.
Jordan Capion, 13 years old, older brother of John, shot at the back while drinking coffee outside their farm house.
Juvy Capion, 27 years old, 3 months pregnant, mother of John and Jordan, with a gunshot wound in the chest, killed embracing her son John.
Vicky, 4 years old, youngest child of Juvy, was able to run away, but injured anyway.
When a relative of the victims said that it was better if the children were not harmed, a soldier replied “mas maayo nga tiwason ang mga bata para wala’y witness” (better to finish off the children, so there are no witnesses). Before Juvy was shot, the relative heard Juvy say, “tama na ayaw namo sige ug pabuto kay naigo nako” (please stop firing your guns, as I am already wounded). But the soldiers kept firing their guns.
Immediately after the incident, Colonel Alexis Bravo, commander of the 27th Infantry Batallion, conducted press conferences for radio and print, claiming the incident was an ‘encounter’ with the NPA. Evidence however showed there was willful intent to kill innocent children and their mother. They even talked to the unarmed mother before killing her. How can that be an encounter? Juvy, the mother, together with her husband Daguil, are active leaders in opposing the mining project. Col. Bravo, Lt. Jimenez and seven other soldiers were relieved of duty immediately after the massacre.
Kiblawan Mayor Marivic Diamante, who is an active supporter of Xstrata-SMI and receives millions in ‘development’ funds from them, and who is often a guest speaker in mining conferences in Manila, attempted to take possession of two children who were vital witnesses, saying they would be brought to the hospital. The mother of Daguil refused, triggering a tug of war, pacified by Atty. Hawtay of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The children are now safely in the hands of the Social Action Center of Marbel. (Sources – Task Force Detainee of the Philippines, Social Action Center Marbel, rappler.com, LILAK).
The military wants to convince everyone it is a counter-insurgency war. They do not see it as a people’s war against the multinational they protect. They talk of suspected communist rebels. That is the way they justify their presence. They say they are there because the rebels are there. They say they want to protect the people from the rebels. But they kill instead the people they say they protect. In truth, from their actions, they are there to support and protect the mining project. Before the multinationals came, there was peace in Tampakan. Now the domain of the B’laans has been mutilated.
Tampakan Foum’s Appeal to President Aquino
Tampakan Forum, a coalition of NGOs and Church institutions acting as a technical working group on the Tampakan mining issue, is calling on the CHR and NCIP to conduct an immediate investigation. They must take note that DAGUIL IS BEING PURSUED NOT SO MUCH BECAUSE HE IS A RENEGADE BUT BECAUSE HE LEADS THE B’LAAN OPPOSITION TO SMI. Tampakan Forum asks why Mayor Diamante, instead of calling for sobriety and calm, is campaigning for a manhunt that will fuel conflict and place the B’laan communities at risk, especially those opposing the mining project. She announced a reward of P300,000 for his capture. Tampakan Forum also laments how evidence shows there was no ‘encounter’ but a massacre.
Tampakan Forum has the following demands . “1) President Aquino, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Force to order a total pull-out of the 27th IB from Tampakan as their presence will only put innocent lives in jeopardy and prey to further violence due to the conflict situation in Tampakan. Investigation of the suspected perpetrators should be done with haste and resolve; 2) Total cessation of operation/presence of SMI in Tampakan in order to diffuse and relieve the deep-seated enmity among the B’laans. Moreover, SMI has no reason to be conducting any activities since it has not obtained an ECC to do any development activities in the area; 3) Justice for the victims and families of the Tampakan massacre, by conducting an immediate investigation and subsequent prosecution of the perpetrators; 4) irrevocable cancellation of SMI’s FTAA.” And may I personally add, you need to reform our mining policies which are heavily biased for multinationals, which does not yield for us true development.
Mr. President, please do not permit the multinational to extract gold tinted with the blood of our people. The drop in the bucket you get in tax revenues is not worth the precious lives of the people you serve. The heavens cry out for justice for Jovy, Jordan and John, who are martyrs to their people.
The soldiers say they are peace keepers, but they bring war and bloodshed, not peace. They are there only for the multinationals and against the people. There is only one solution to all these killings, Mr. President. Let the multinationals and the soldiers leave, then the rebels will leave, then the B’laans will have peace. The solution is so simple. If you do not do so, the war in Tampakan will escalate. We elected you not to serve the government or the multinationals, but the people. Please remain true to us, your people.
Bernie Lopez eastwind journals Opinyon Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org
__________________ he who troubles his home shall inherit the wind
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