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A Letter of Grave Concern over the court case dismissal of the 'Capion Massacre'

October 18, 2013

Hon. Leila M. De Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice

Dear Hon. De Lima,

We are writing to express our grave concern over the resolution of the Office of the Provincial Prosecution in Digos City, Davao del Sur regarding the murder case filed by Sukim K. Malid against Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, Lt. Dante Jimenez and fourteen other members of the Philippine Army for the killings of Juvy Capion and her two sons, Jordan and John Mark.

The Capions were killed in their hut in Kiblawan town in Davao del Sur precisely a year ago today, in October 18, 2012. Soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion reportedly opened fire on the hut were Juvy, who was pregnant, her three children, and Disa Capion Piang were inside. Juvy and her two sons died by gunshot wounds. Disa and Vicky, Juvy’s daughter, survived, running away from the gun bursts which lasted a minute.

In the resolution signed by Prosecutor I Jayson B. Banjal and approved by Provincial Prosecutor Artemio A. Tajon, the cases filed against the soldiers were dismissed because the circumstantial evidences provided by the complainant were insufficient to establish probable cause. We find this resolution as deeply disturbing, on account of that among the six witnesses who have submitted their affidavits, Piang was an eyewitness, and a survivor of the massacre. Moreover, the other witnesses who have presented evidence were on the site only minutes after they have heard the gun bursts, and saw the soldiers still at the murder site. According to their affidavits, the witnesses themselves were also threatened to be slain by the soldiers.

Furthermore, even the Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza admits that there were violations in the rules of engagement in the incident that killed the Capions. The 27th IB was pulled-out from Tampakan, and thirteen soldiers are now facing court martials because of the incident. We now fear that the dismissal of the murder charges may have repercussions to the progress of the court martial, making it more difficult to achieve justice for the murders of Juvy and her sons.

We believe that the dismissal of this case is an injustice to the Capion family, and gives dim prospects to other cases of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in our country. In this line, we are demanding a thorough reinvestigation of this case in behalf of the victims and as an organization advancing the rights of indigenous peoples to their rights to ancestral lands and to self-determination. In addition, we find that the prosecutors in charge of this case, Prosecutor Banjal and Provincial Prosecutor Tajon, exhibited grave abuse of authority in this case’s dismissal in spite of an eyewitness and other credible witnesses, and must also be placed under investigation.

We hope to receive your favorable reply to this letter at the soonest. We look forward to the actions of the Department of Justice on the Capion killings, and hope that this case will get a positive turn before the International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2013, a benchmark in the state of human rights in the Philippines.

Thank you for your immediate attention.

Sincerely yours,

Piya Macliing Malayao
Co-National Coordinator and Spokesperson
Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)

CC:

Hon. Severo Catura
Presidential Human Rights Committee
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
FAX: +63- 2 734 6761
Email: phrc.phil@gmail.com

Hon. Nancy A.Catamco
National Cultural Communities Committee of the 15th Congress
House of Representatives
Rm. SWA-416
Phone: (632) 931-5001; local 7978, 4424044
Email: repncatamco@yahoo.com
Email: catamco.na@congress.gov.ph

Hon. Jose Manuel S. Mamauag, MNSA
Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: jomasuma6@yahoo.com

Hon. Leonor Quintayo
Chairperson
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
West Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines
Email: ncipchairmansoffice@yahoo.com

Atty. Edre Olalia
Secretary General
National Union of People’s Lawyers
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin cor. Matatag Sts., Central District
Quezon City, Philippines 1101
Telefax: +63(2)9206660
Email: nupl2007@gmail.com

Cristina Palabay
Secretary General
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146