Mining Act of 1995, a license for the gov’t and AFP to kill

On the 18th year of the Mining Act of 1995, Karapatan-Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights calls for the immediate scrapping of this law because “it is a direct assault on our sovereignty and patrimony as it emasculates our rights as a people," Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan said, emphasizing that most of the human rights violations Karapatan had documented, especially in Mindanao, are related to big foreign businesses engaged in large-scale mining.

Cases pertinent to this assertion are the massacre of Capion Family on October 18, 2012 in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur and the killing of Kitari Capion in January 2013. Palabay said that “the case of the Capions illustrates the collusion of the Aquino government, the AFP and its paramilitary groups, and the mining company they protect.”

Karapatan said this was confirmed during the onsite inquiry conducted by the National Cultural Communities Committee of the House of Representatives on February 21, 2013 in Koronadal City. During the said hearing, it was verified that there exists a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by the AFP, SMI and the LGUs of Kiblawan, Tampakan and Columbio to protect the mining operations of SMI-Xstrata.

Kiblawan Mayor Marivic Diamante disclosed that SMI provides P7,500 monthly to 12 of the 60 CAFGU members in the area, aside from the P2,500 given by the military as reported by  Col. Marcos Flores, Commanding Officer of the 1002nd Brigade.  

In the same hearing, Lt. Col. Shalimar Imperial, head of the 27th IB, admitted that Col. Dan Balandra, a former military official, is employed by the SMI. Relatives of Daguil Capion said that Balandra earlier tried to convince Daguil to surrender. Same relatives hold Balandra accountable for leading the Army contingent to Daguil’s house that resulted in the massacre of his family. Balandra graduated from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

"These mining companies often hire goons, finance the AFP and its paramilitary groups to eliminate opposition and pave the way for mining operations. Their connivance is a perfect combination for human rights violations against the people, especially those who are opposed to plunder by these transnational corporations," Palabay said. 

Juvy Capion  and his two sons, John Mark and Jordan, were killed when soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion and members of CAFGU strafed their home. Juvy was a known defender of the Blaan’s right to their ancestral lands against the incursion of the Xstrata-Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI); while her husband Daguil Capion has lead the B'laan tribe in a ‘pangayaw’ against the SMI, bringing him and his tribe in conflict with the AFP and its paramilitary groups that protects the SMI operation. Three months later, on January 29, a fourth Capion, Kitari, was killed in a military operation. Kitari is Daguil’s brother.

"The regimes that implemented the Mining Act of 1995 are accountable for grave human rights violations. Equally responsible is the Aquino regime for the intensification of these violations such as the extrajudicial killings, forced evacuations, and for strengthening the law, despite the opportunity to junk it," Palabay said.

Karapatan reiterates its call to pull out military troops in the communities, dismantle paramilitary groups such as the CAFGU and the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA), as it joins other people’s organizations’ call to junk the Mining Act of 1995.