(see update here)

The wife and two young children of the leader of an armed tribal group were killed while his daughter was injured as government troops clashed with the group near Sagittarius Mines Inc.’s (SMI) exploration site in Kiblawan, Davao del Sur, early Thursday, the military said.

Killed were Daguil Capion’s wife Jovy and their children Pop, 14, and John, 10, Capt. William Alfred Rodriguez, spokesman of the Army’s 1002nd Brigade, said.

Capion’s 7-year-old daughter Vicky was wounded on the left ear and was treated before being brought to a relative.

The clash occurred around 6 a.m. in Sitio Aliong, Brgy. Kimlawis.

Rodriguez said members of the 27th Infantry Battalion, led by 1Lt. Dante Jimenez, patrolled the area after receiving a report on the presence of armed men, but were fired upon and forced to retaliate.

The firefight lasted for about 15 minutes, after which the armed men withdrew towards Mt. Bololomot, leaving behind the three bodies and injured girl, he said.

Also found at the site were a rifle grenade, empty shells of M16 rifles, and two M16 magazines with live rounds of ammunition.

Soldiers informed Jovy’s parents of the incident and are extending any possible assistance in coordination with the Bongmal Tribal Council, Rodriguez said.

Capion, a member of the B’laan tribe, was implicated in the ambush that killed retired Supt. Villamindo Hectin, a security consultant of SMI, and PO2 Rey Tonso, a member of the Davao del Sur Provincial PNP’s Public Safety Company, last June 20, also in Brgy. Kimlawis.

Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), an anti-mining group, condemned the attack on Capion’s family.

“It was well known that he (Capion) is not a rebel, not a member or supporter of either the communist insurgents or the Muslim rebel groups. He is a B’laan warrior tasked by his clan to protect the ancestral domains. In this case, the most obvious threat against their domain right now is the Tampakan mining project of SMI,” ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera said in a statement.

Sagittarius Mines Inc. is the local partner of Swiss company Xstrata Plc. in operating a proposed gold and copper mine in an area straddling boundaries of Kiblawan, Tampakan of South Cotabato, and Columbio of Sultan Kudarat.

The area has a two-billion ton deposit of copper and gold, according to feasibility studies done by the companies.

(see update here)

(John Roson)

– end –