4th Capion killed, B’laan families evacuate as military operations intensify in areas occupied by Xstrata-SMI mines

Karapatan calls for the immediate pull out of the Task Force KITACOM (Kiblawan, Tampakan, Columbio, Malungon) of the 39th and 27th IB-PA and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) from civilian communities, as it expresses its condemnation on the killing of Kitari Capion and the forcible evacuation of some 150 residents in Baranggay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur. 

“We view the recent military operation as another violation of the B'laan’s right to their ancestral lands, as if the incursion of the Xstrata Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) is not enough to wipe out the B’laan tribe," said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

Kitari Capion was killed during a military operation on January 29, three months after her sister-in-law Juvy Capion and her two sons were massacred. 

Initial reports from the said community indicated forced evacuation of the B’laan tribe which started on February 1, after Kitari’s death and, after military operations resumed in the B’laan ancestral lands occupied by the Xstrata-SMI Mining Corporation. 

Members of the B’laan tribe opposed to the incursion of the Xstrata-SMI operation have employed "pangayaw", traditionally a “war” waged by the tribes against intruders into their defined territory but is now waged against the mining company as a way of defending their ancestral land rights. 

“The military operation is meant to protect the interests of the mining company by silencing dissent in the community,” added Palabay.  

Kitari is the fourth member of the Capion clan who was killed by state forces under the Noynoy Aquino government. Kitari is the younger brother of Daguil, whose wife and two children were killed by elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion in October last year. 

“The involvement of the 27th IB in the recent military operations confirms our position that the AFP’s earlier announcement to punish those involved in the massacre of Juvy Capion and her sons was just for show,” Palabay said. The AFP supposedly pulled out the 27th IB and replaced by the 39th IB after the Capion massacre, “ but both battalions are now involved in the killing of another Capion.” 

"President Aquino's Oplan Bayanihan already resulted in the forced evacuation of thousands of Mindawons away from their lands, literally wiping out courageous indigenous peoples who lead their people to stand up against anti-people policies of this government," said Palabay. "With people being driven away from their lands and their leaders killed, the B’laan have all the right to defend their ancestral lands, their source of life," Palabay said. 

Karapatan also called for “justice for the Capions and all Lumad victims who have been killed to pave way for big businesses."