“Impunity name of the game” in mining-affected indigenous communities

Karapatan Public Info Desk
22 November 2012

Two fact-finding missions simultaneously held last week in Bukidnon and Kiblawan, Davao del Sur finds indigenous peoples attacked by mining-backed military and paramilitary groups.

The missions, led by 200 indigenous peoples and environment advocates, said the murders of Matigsalog chieftain Jimmy Liguyon in San Fernando, Bukdinon and Blaan Juvy Capion in Kiblawan are linked to their communities’ opposition to large-scale mining companies that are applying for exploration in their villages.

The Peace and Solidarity Mission held in Kiblawan on Saturday confirmed the involvement of a retired army colonel who is now security consultant of Sagittarius Mines-Xstrata, Dan Balandra, in the murder of the Capion family.

Witnesses in the village said Balandra had visited the Capion family for three consecutive days before the massacre, reportedly to convince Juvy’s husband Daguil to surrender after his pangayaw (tribal war) against the intrusion of SMI-Xstrata into their ancestral lands.

But witnesses believed Balandra’s motive was to confirm Daguil’s presence in his farm and provided such information to the 27th Infantry Battalion to attack his family on October 18 killing Juvy who was two-months pregnant and their two sons.

The presence of Balandra points to the “complicity between SMI and the AFP to go after Daguil for leading his tribe’s opposition to large-scale mining,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez of Karapatan who was one of the delegates of the mission.

Meanwhile, the International Solidarity Mission in Defense of Indigenous Communities Fighting Impunity visited 150 Matigsalog evacuees camped in the Bukidnon provincial capitol grounds, and showed concern that the tribe cannot return home as the paramilitary group remains in their village.

The paramilitary group called New Indigenous Peoples’ Army for Reform (NIPAR) is headed by Alde Salusad, who claims responsibility for the killing of Liguyon.

Liguyon, village chieftain of Barangay Dao, was killed by Salusad in front of his family on March 5 after he refused to recognize Salusad’s ancestral domain title that encompasses 52,000 hectares of the Matigsalog tribe in San Fernando. Liguyon’s family said the title allows Salusad to enter into a consent with mining companies such as San Cristo mining now operating in San Fernando covering 13,000 hectares of Matigsalog lands.

The mission also learned that NIPAR has killed two other Matigsalogs. In one incident they violently dispersed a rally. They also disrupted a literacy school affected 86 children.

The mission scored the government for failing to arrest Salusad and dismantle the paramilitary to help the Matigsalogs who have camped out for three months.

“We note that this is the second wave of displacement of the indigenous communities of San Fernando after the death of village chief Jimmy Liguyon, yet Salusad was never held accountable after the killing, impunity is no doubt the name of the game in this part of the world,” said Richard Gadit, human rights advocacy officer of the Thailand-based Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP).

Both missions recommend that those responsible for the killings face prosecution. The mission in Kiblawan called for the prosecution of the 27th Infantry Battalion Commander Col. Alexis Bravo, and hold the SMI-Xstrata accountable for more reported human rights violations since its entry in the quadric-boundary of South Cotabato,Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and Davao del Sur. #

For references :
Bukidnon’s mission
Jomorito Goaynon, KALUMBAY. +63905-815-1490
Sr. Famita Somogod MSM, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Northern Mindanao. +63907-645-8674

Kiblawan’s mission
Francis Morales, Panalipdan Mindanao convener . +63919-991-4117
Pastor Vince Ortiz, Justice for Capion Family, Justice for All Movement, +6393-0940-7433
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan. +63917-561-6800

Mr. Genasque Enriquez, KATRIBU Partylist. +63942-557-8223
ManiLakbayan ng Mindanao is a Mindanao Peoples’ Mobilization for the Defense of Land, the Environment, and Human Rights that brings voices of concern on mining-affected communities and the attacks on environment defenders. It will mobilize to Manila starting November 30 to December 10 to lobby with Congress and other institutions to support the call to protect the environment and human rights.
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Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.