Calls for Withdrawal of Foreign Mining Ops, US Military Aid
“The murder of the Capion family lays bare the undeniable truth: the Philippine government will go as far as murdering a pregnant woman and her children in order to guarantee multi-billion dollar profits for foreign mining corporations,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, chairperson of BAYAN USA. “We need to stand up against the Aquino government’s continued sell-off of the precious resources of the Philippines to companies like Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (SMI), or else anyone defending their ancestral land could be put to death by Aquino’s mercenary military.”
The massacre of the Capion family took place in South Cotabato, Mindanao Philippines, on October 18, 2012 at about 6:00 in the morning when 13 elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion sprayed the house with gunfire. Their attack resulted in the murder of Juvy Capion, and her two sons Jorge,13 and Jan-Jan, 7 while wounding her 5 year old daughter Vicky. Juvy was also two-months pregnant. The Philippine military claimed they were in engaged in a gunfight with Juvy’s husband, Daguil Capion, known to the community as a courageous Lumad anti-mining leader who leads the pangayaw or tribal war against Xstrata-SMI’s mining operations in defense of their ancestral land. However, no witnesses corroborated the military’s claims; in fact, witnesses claimed that Daguil was nowhere in sight.
Philippine Government’s Backwards Priorities
For centuries, the people of Mindanao have fought off foreign invaders intent on exploiting the land and rich natural resources of the Philippines’ second largest island, which is endowed with more than half of the Philippines’ mineral wealth. Reliable puppets of US imperialism, each successive Philippine regime has failed to protect the nation against US intervention, instead swinging the door wide open for both the bankrupt neoliberal economic agenda and military incursions of the US to be put into full play in Mindanao.
Republic Act 7942, more commonly known as the Mining Act of 1995, gave foreign mining corporations an all-access pass to exploit the country, by liberalizing foreign access and control of all aspects of the Philippine mining industry, including exploration, development and utilization. The law ushered in permanently destructive, large-scale foreign mining projects in Mindanao, especially as the world’s appetite for copper, gold, aluminum and iron has skyrocketed to meet the demands of the high-tech industry. The flood of mining operations has gorged mountains and stripped forests to extract valuable minerals, leaving in its wake toxic waste, polluted water sources, and bedrock so weakened that it has been directly linked to the massive landslides that have killed hundreds of Filipinos following typhoons in recent years
People VS Profits
Mining has also unleashed countless human rights violations especially against indigenous people like the Capion family, as most mineral resources are located beneath the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples. Juvy and Daguil Capion were members of Kalgad, a regional indigenous organization engaged in a campaign against the Swiss mining corporation XStrata-Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) that had started exploiting large-scale open-pit copper and gold mines in the boundary area of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces, on the ancestral lands of the Blaan people.
The Philippine government’s hands are bloodied by the numerous killings committed by SMI and other foreign companies, with their creation of the police-military Investment Defense Force working hand-in-hand with the companies’ own private armies and security guards to militarize communities to “protect” the mining companies from their unarmed opposition. The government’s participation in the murder of the Capion family, and the many other martyrs who have fought against environmental degradation and rights to ancestral land at the cost of their lives, clearly shows the priority it has for foreign investment over its own people. By giving foreign companies 100% access to mining operations in the Philippines, the government elite has chosen to prioritize pocketing cash from the granting of mining permits instead of taking national ownership in the development of mining as an industry that benefits the majority, respects people’s rights and welfare, upholds national sovereignty, and presses forward towards self-sustainable national industrialization.
Call to Action
To uphold the human rights and dignity of the Capion family and all indigenous peoples martyred for fighting back against foreign and national companies, we demand an investigation of the murders of Jovi and her two children at the hands of the AFP. We demand an end to mining and militarization of the Philippines, and demand that none of our US tax dollars are given to the Philippine government as military aid used to murder women, children and innocent civilians.
Contact: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN USA firstname.lastname@example.org
BAYAN USA is calling on supporters to sign the following Justice for the Victims of the Tampakan Massacre online petition: