Juvy Capion, a Blaan woman fighter

By Philippine Task Force for Indigenous People’s Rights


She was a woman, a wife and a mother to three children and to an unborn child. She was known not only because of her husband’s heroic cause, but because she herself was a woman fighter in her homeland.

BLAAN FIGHTERS. With all the courage, Juvy Capion (fourth from the left and in pink shirt) together with other Blaans reveal in a focus group discussion, four days before the Capion Massacre happened, the violations of XSTRATA-SMI in their indigenous laws and practices and the harassments done by the 27th Infantry Batallion and CAFGU.

BLAAN FIGHTERS. With all the courage, Juvy Capion (fourth from the right and in pink shirt) together with other Blaans reveal in a focus group discussion, four days before the Capion Massacre happened, the violations of XSTRATA-SMI in their indigenous laws and practices and the harassments done by the 27th Infantry Batallion and CAFGU. #

“Hangga’t hindi humihinto at umaalis ang SMI, hindi matatapos ang gulo sa aming lugar (Unless the SMI stops its operations and leaves, there will be no peace in our community) ,” Juvy Capion said in rage in a focus group discussion held four days before the massacre that took her life and that of her children, John and Pop, happened. They were helplessly strafed with bullets early in the morning of October 18, 2012. Juvy was one of the Blaan women in Bong Mal staunchly opposing the operations of XSTRATA-Sagittarius Mines, Inc (SMI).  

When Xstrata-SMI was not yet in Bong Mal, Juvy and other Blaan women were unhampered in the performance of their roles in ensuring food for the family and community. They were not restricted in their “uma” or upland farms; they can freely plant crops in the mountains, and together with other Blaan families, they share the fruits of their labor.

Juvy claimed that with the entry of the mining company in their territory, they can no longer perform their usual work. They can no longer practice “aksafu” or sharing of food or anything they can give to other Blaan families. She said the company is using the military and the CAFGU to threaten the people in order to give in to the mining project. “Bawal kaming pumunta sa ‘uma’ lalo na kapag may operasyon ang 27th IB. Kung minsan hindi mag-aral ang mga anak namin kasi natatakot sila (We are prohibited from going to our farms, especially during operations conducted by the 27th IB. Even our children are sometimes afraid to go to school because of this) ,” Juvy said furiously. She added that almost every sitio in Bong Mal has a military detachment and there is one just near the school. In a recent peace and solidarity mission which the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP) participated in, it is learned that the Blaan of Bong Mal were also prohibited from going to the forest and river to get food, herbal medicine or water. There was an incident when a man was apprehended and labelled as NPA when he was caught in the river.

“Gumagawa ng gulo ang SMI. Pati magkakamag-anak ay nag-aaway (SMI causes disunity even among families),” Juvy reiterated. The relationship among members of the community has gone into nothing because of mining. The community is now  divided into pro and anti-mining families.

In 2002, SMI acquired a Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement from Western Mining Corporation for mining. The large-scale Tampakan Copper-Gold Project, backed by the Anglo-Swiss firm Xstrata, covers the areas of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur and Tampakan, South Cotabato.

SMI, according to Juvy, did not  conduct any process to get the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the Blaan community. “Ang sinabi lang ay may proyekto na papasok, at ang kinausap lang ay mgafulong’ (tribal leader) na hindi pinili ng mga Blaan (We just heard that the SMI will have a project and they got the permission from the fulung who were actually not chosen by the Blaan),” she explained. What the company did is to connive with fake tribal leaders appointed by the local government unit. She added that material inducements such as four-wheel drive vehicles were given to the fake tribal leaders. The company also hired community members as members of the Resettlement Committee (RC) which is being used to convince the people to agree to the project and discuss with them the resettlement plan and other benefits.

“Ang sabi ng RC sa amin, maglipat ng lugar dahil gagamitin ng SMI ang lupa namin (The RC told us to accept relocation as the SMI will use our land),” Juvy said. She said they will not allow that their mountains will become an open pit.

She recalled that in one of the meetings conducted by the RC in the middle of 2012, packed lunch were distributed to community members. They were then asked to sign on a paper, without a heading. They later found out that their signatures signify their consent to the mining project. An NCIP personnel was present in this activity but remained silent and tolerated the unscrupulous and deceitful ways of the mining firm to obtain consent from the Blaans. FPIC was not even discussed as mandated of them.

The family of Juvy belongs to the 18 families or clans in Sitios Bong Sbang, Alyong 1, and Nakultana who are  fearless to SMI and are strongly resisting mining. Despite the food blockades, intimidation, harassment and vilification in these areas, they remain to be anti-mining Blaan families. And because of the many human rights abuses in Bongmal, Daguil Capion, the husband of Juvy, is tasked by the B’laan clan to protect their ancestral domains. He declared a “pangayaw”(traditional warfare) against the XSTRATA-SMI. In his community, Daguil is a warrior hero. However, he and other Blaan men who are in “pangayaw” are considered fugitives and now charged with criminal cases by the military.

While the tribal warriors are in “pangayaw”, the women have been very active in the campaign against XSTRATA-SMI. They are the frontlines during protest actions, barricades and dialogues with LGUs. Like their husbands, they are fierce and  are fighters in their own ways. Juvy was a leader of KALGAD, an organization of Blaan indigenous peoples resisting the mining operations in their ancestral domains. She said that they have been protesting against XSTRATA-SMI but no actions were taken by the government to solve their issue.  

“Ayaw namin ng SMI dahil ayaw naming umalis (We don’t want SMI because we don’t want to leave!),” she pointed out.  She added that if XSTRATA-SMI is sincere in helping the people of Bongmal they should help without anything in exchange. In the end, Juvy said that all Blaan should be one and help each other, like before when XSTRATA-SMI is not yet encroaching in their ancestral territories. She also added that their struggle should inspire the next generation to preserve and protect their ancestral domains in the future. “Maganda na mapalakas ang pagtuturo sa kasaysayan ng tribo namin laban sa XSTRATA-SMI (We should teach our young generation the history of our struggles against XSTRATA-SMI),” she stressed. #