Religious condemn B’laan killings

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“Who has appointed you ruler and judge over us…?” (Exodus 2:14)

We, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), condemn the treacherous killing of members of the family of a B’laan leader who is opposed to the operations of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) inside the tribe’s ancestral domain. Three members of his family died while the youngest daughter was wounded. The massacre on Oct. 18, 2012 showed the heartlessness and ruthlessness of the perpetrators and criminals, members of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

AMRSP denounces the massacre. No one has the right to deprive anyone of the gift of life in an unjust and inhuman manner. We demand justice for the brutally murdered members of the Capion family. The tragedy that befell the pregnant woman-victim and her innocent children who were helplessly killed while they were still in bed is crying to the heavens for justice! We cannot remain silent in the face of this brazen display of impunity. Aside from the fact that the victims were defenseless, their only “crime,” if crime it was at all, was to be part of the community or family that stands for what its members think is truthful and just!

We call on President Aquino to order an immediate and thorough investigation into the massacre to ensure that justice is served. The residents in the area say that they did not hear an exchange of gunfire; they only heard two bursts of gunshots, which could be validated according to the detailed account of the witness who was interviewed. The witness claimed that the second strafing was done by the military 20-25 meters away from the house where the mother and her children lay wounded. So the claim of the military that the victims were caught in a crossfire is false and cannot be substantiated. The excessive use of force should be thoroughly investigated; the soldiers knew beforehand that there were civilians in the area as it was very evident that the place they were raiding was a farmhouse. We call on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately pull out the military detachment in the area, as the community fears more violations might follow after the assault on the Capion family.

May this occasion prompt the government to seriously take action, on behalf of the indigenous peoples and other sectors that oppose mining due to the harm it causes the environment which we all hold sacred, and due to the threat it poses to the natural wealth that rightly belongs to our children and their children.

AMRSP extends its sympathies to the surviving members of the Capion family and assures them that the lives of their mother and their siblings will forever be remembered by all who work for justice and peace and for the protection of Mother Earth!

May God hear the cries of all victims of violence and grant them justice!

—FR. MARLON A. LACAL, O.Carm,

co-executive secretary,

Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines,

amrspsec@pldtdsl.net

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