The timing could never be more disgusting.
Instead of sending to trial the perpetrators of the ghastly massacre that happened a year ago, the office of the provincial prosecutor in Davao del Sur recently dismissed the complaint of murder filed against government soldiers who were identified by witnesses as responsible in the death of Juvy Capion and her two children.
In a resolution dated 5 August 2013, Prosecutor Jayson Banjal ruled that the “pieces of evidence submitted by the complainant are insufficient to establish probable cause” to find Lt. Dante Jimenez and 15 other soldiers guilty of murder.
In his resolution, the prosecutor gave weight to the testimonies of Jimenez and other soldiers who claimed that a legitimate encounter took place in the Capion’s house which resulted in the death of Juvy and her son.
He also said, based on physical evidences, that the spent M-14 and M1 Garand casings reportedly recovered from the crime scene could not have come from the government soldiers.
The same resolution exonerated Lt. Col. Alexis Bravo, the relieved commanding officer of the 278th Infantry Battalion which includes Jimenez and the 14 soldiers.
The resolution dismissing the murder complaint filed by Sukim Malid, father of Juvy Capion, was only received by the lawyer of complainant last October 10, eight days before the first anniversary of the massacre.
A survivor who was at the scene however said in an affidavit to support the complaint that on 18 October 2012, soldiers fired at the Capion house without warning hitting Juvy in the head and other parts of the body. Her 13 and six year old sons were also instantly killed in the massacre.
Disa Capion Piang said she was hiding behind Juvy when the gunfire started but managed to escape bringing along the youngest daughter of the victim who was also grazed by a bullet fired from the guns of the soldiers.
Jimenez said they were tipped off that Daguil Capion, a fugitive Blaan tribal leader and husband of Juvy who eventually joined the New People’s Army, was inside the house.
As his men approached the Capion’s hut they were reportedly met with gunshots prompting his soldiers to open fire.
In a subsequent radio interview, however, Daguil Capion denied he was at the house when the massacre took place. Daguil claimed he was some 200 meters away from their home where he spent the night when he heard the gunfire.
He denied firing a gun at the soldiers.
Human Rights lawyer and Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate immediately condemned the dismissal of the complaint.
“As families and friends commemorate the death of Juvy Capion and her two sons, the decision comes as an insult to the family and to all the victims of human rights violations and also shows the weakness of the Aquino administration to render justice to its aggrieved citizens,” said Rep. Zarate.
Zarate also said that the decision practically exonerated the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and X-strata accountable for the massacre of anti-mining activist Juvy Capion and her two sons.
Lawyer Gilbert Bandiola said they will immediately file a motion for reconsideration and will elevate the case to the Department of Justice if they are denied.
The Commission of Human Rights earlier described the the murder as “gross irresponsibility” on the part of government soldiers.
“Dahil iyan sa katangahan o gross irresponsibility on the part of the rank-and-file soldiers who are so irresponsible na uulanan na lamang ng bala. Allegedly, soldiers ang gumawa, killing innocent lives,” Rosales said in a phone interview several days after the incident. (It’s because of stupidity or gross irresponsibility on the part of the rank-and-file soldiers who were so irresponsible to open fire. Allegedly, the soldiers did it, killing innocent lives).
The Capions are staunch critics of the Glencore-Xstrata controlled Sagittarius Mines Inc. where operations were recently “scaled down.”
Daguil Capion was a former contractual employee of SMI but got disillusioned after he reportedly realized SMI would encroach on and exploit their ancestral lands.
He took up arms together with a handful of fellow Blaan tribesmen and led several ambuscades against SMI security personnel and drill contractors that resulted in several deaths.
Several warrants of arrest have been issued against him.
But following the massacre of his wife, Capion appeared in a video footage and declared he and his men have joined the communist-led New People’s Army.