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Mining firm under fire after killings

October 30, 2012 ·  , Bong Sarmiento, Koronadal City, Philippines October 23, 2012, UCA News


Soldiers confront protesters in Quezon City at the weekend

Tribal and human rights groups yesterday accused a foreign-backed mining company of causing “mayhem” among indigenous communities in Mindanao, following the killing of a tribal leader’s wife and two sons last week.

Katribu, a tribal people’s party, said the killings in Davao del Sur province, by soldiers, “proves [the military] can go to the extent of killing even children just to protect the interests of large scale mining companies.”

The group, in a statement, called on the Department of Justice to launch a probe into the killings.

On October 18, soldiers allegedly opened fire on the house of Daguel Capion, a B’laan tribal leader, killing his pregnant wife and his two sons aged 13 and eight. His five-year-old daughter was wounded.

Capion had been reportedly leading an armed struggle against Sagittarius Mines,  a unit of Xstrata Copper which plans to mine copper and gold deposits in nearby Tampakan, South Cotabato province, with Indophil Resources NL, an Australian company.

At a press conference yesterday, Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel said there was relative peace in the area before the arrival of the world’s fourth largest copper producer, in 1995.

He also refuted the military’s claim that the deaths of the activist’s family were the result of a firefight with Capion and his supporters.

“Those who heard the firing claimed there was no exchange of gunfire,” the bishop said.

“When Sagittarius, Xstrata and Indophil came, trouble started,” the bishop said.

“There is now a war brewing between the B’laans of Bong Mal and the B’laan’s of Atmorok,” the bishop said, referring to the October 18 incident. Bong Mal and Atmorok are neighboring villages.

“These two communities now have bad blood between them,” Gutierrez said.

The mining company has announced it is planning to relocate Bong Mal residents, who will be affected by its operation, to Atmorok.


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