Pullout of paramilitary forces from Lumad areas demanded-A A +A
Saturday, October 20, 2012
A HUMAN rights group has called for the pullout of military and paramilitary forces from Lumad communities following the death of a tribal leader's family during an encounter with the army.
The group Karapatan sought for the complete pullout of the Army's 27th Infantry Battallion and other paramilitary groups after the family members of Danguil Capion, a B’laan tribal leader, were killed in an alleged gunfight with government troops on October 18.
The military has claimed that the 27th IB based in Tupi, South Cotabato "were fired upon" when they were approaching Kimlawis village in Kiblawan town last Thursday morning to check a reported presence of armed men.
The alleged gunfight killed Capion's wife Juvy and their sons Pop, 8, and John, 13, while their daughter Vicky, 7, was reportedly injured.
Capion's wife Juvy was a member of Kalgad, an organization of the B'laan tribe that is opposed to the entry of Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI) whose operation would allegedly displace about 30,000 B'laans from their ancestral lands.
Karapatan said the military and paramilitary forces serve as "company guards" of the SMI.
"[T]hey have harassed, threatened and intimidated the Lumad who are opposed to the SMI operation," said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general.
Palabay's group also claimed that there was no gunfight as elements of the 27th IB sprayed bullets on the hut that sheltered the slain victims.
However, 10th Infantry Division commander Brigadier General Ariel Bernardo earlier said the incident was a "legitimate encounter" but regretted that there were collateral damages. He added that government forces have been pursuing the group for various offenses.
Bernardo has created a Board of Inquiry that would probe the squad involved including the battalion commander to determine if there were violations of the rules of engagement.
Indications that Capion and his family fired at the soldiers will also be investigated.
For their possible lapses in the incident, members of the seven-man squad involved in Thursday's operation and Lt. Dante Jimenez, commanding officer of Bravo Company of the 27th IB, were earlier relieved from their posts.
Lieutenant Colonel Noel Alexis Bravo was also placed under investigation.
Killings of indigenous people
Following the recent incident, Karapatan also expressed alarmed over the "spate of killings" among the indigenous peoples, saying these groups "naturally and logically, oppose the operation of foreign-owned, large-scale mining corporations" such as SMI.
Last October 4, a leader of an indigenous organization fighting for land rights was also killed at San Nicolas, Puntod in Cagayan de Oro City.
The victim, identified as Gilbert Paborada, was dead on the spot after sustaining five gunshot wounds. He was also allegedly harassed and threatened by gunmen before his death.
Paborada is the chairperson of Pangalasag (Indigenous Shield), a community-based indigenous organization resisting oil palm plantation expansion of the company A. Brown in the town of Opol, Misamis Oriental.
The company has been accused of allegedly grabbing the lands of the indigenous people. The issue has been refuted by the Provincial Board of Misamis Oriental. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)