Xstrata SMI and the AFP’s 27th IB are accountable and must be punished for the Kiblawan Massacre

October 21, 2012

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The Blaan Lumads and the entire people of Far South Mindanao, are crying out for justice in the cold-blooded massacre of the family of known anti-mining activist and lumad leader Daguil Cafeon.

Jovi Malid Cafeon, 32, and her three children, Pop, John and Vicky, were in their nipa hut when mercilessly strafed by soldiers under the command of a Lt. Jimmy Jimenez of the 27th IB in the early morning of October 18. Jovy and her two children died instantly while the youngest, seven year old Vicky, was wounded. Jovy was two months pregnant and had gathered her children to help her work on the farm when they met their instant death. Daguil was not in the house when the strafing took place.

The 27th IB has the gall to claim that the massacre was a “legitimate encounter” against a “notorious bandit”— when the obvious victims are unarmed and helpless women and children. A witness who was present at the scene of the crime related that after the first volley, Jovy shouted: Hunong na kay may tama na ko. Basin madamay ang mga bata. But the soldiers entered the hut and shot them at close range. Seven year old Vicky was also wounded but was able to run away to safety.

To cover up for this cold blooded murder, justify their fascist acts and protect SMI-Xstrata from its bloody reputation of silencing the opposition by killing them, the 1002nd Bde Commander claims that Daguil is a bandit and not a mining activist. Everybody also knows that Daguil Cafeon is not a bandit but a well-respected lumad leader who has bravely stood up in defense of his rights and that of his community against the giant mining company Xstrata-SMI.

The Aquino government’s 27th IB, Task Force Kitaco, paramilitary groups and intelligence operatives in collusion with this destructive mining company, for the past years have seen to it that people who dare to raise their voices in protest are hounded, harassed, continually attacked and killed. Women and innocent children are not spared — all to ensure the continuing operation of a foreign company that will bring nothing but destruction and misery to the people, siphon our natural resources and deprive the coming generations of their patrimony.

Since the multinational mining company arrived, first as Western Mining Corp (WMC) and later as Xstrata-SMI, the killings have not stopped. The list includes the brave names of those who stood up in defense of their lands – Gurilmin Malid, Virgilio Lagaro, the Bulane brothers, Atong Pacaide, Boy Billianes, Fr Fausto Tentorio, the Tiruray farmers Ronald and Alex Maley who were killed on September 29 in Brgy Telafas, Columbio, and now the Cafeon family. These names have become for us the banner symbolizing a common will, the will to fight this foreign monster that dare to rob us of our patrimony, poison our waters, destroy our communities and kill our leaders.

The people demand justice, not just for the Cafeon family but for all the victims of Xstrata-SMI. In particular, the people demand three things. First, that the 27th IB and its chain of command be punished for their crimes against civilians which are gross violators of the basic tenets of human rights and the international humanitarian law. Second, that there should be a complete pull out of the 27th IB, the Task Force Kitaco, the PNP and paramilitary groups and other armed contingents in the mining area. Their presence has inflicted extreme misery and irreparable damage to the Lumads and the people in the mining site. Third and most important, that the Xstrata-SMI completely stop its operations and leave our lands, our resources and our people alone. For as long as this multinational company remain on our shores, we will never attain peace.