CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
1 September 2013
Last August 23, as reported by Alyansa Tigil Mina in its website and other papers, another B’laan indigenous leader, Bong Fulong (tribal leader) Anteng Freay and his son Victo was killed after the tribal leader’s house was raided by elements of the 39th IB, PA and the CAFGUs of 72nd IB in Bulol Kalon, which, as reported by Bong Sarmiento in Mindanews is located in Sitio Alyong in Bong Mal, which sits at the heart of the mines development site of Sagittarius Mines, Inc. or SMI, a US$5.9billion copper mining site, in Tampakan town, South Cotabato, here in Mindanao, the southern part of the Philippines.
While this was news in the SOCSARGEN area, the report did not warrant intensive national media coverage unlike that of Janet Napoles and the pork barrel issue.
This is unfortunate as focused media coverage should lead to greater public awareness on how the paramilitary groups in the area are being used by supporters of the mining activity to drive away or systematically eliminate groups or individuals who are opposed to the resource extractive activity.
It should also put pressure on the military commanders in the area who should be held responsible in the area under the principle of “command responsibility.”
We have a not-so-new law, Republic Act 9851, or the 2009 Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity” which defines “command responsibility” in this manner:
Section 10. Responsibility of Superiors. – In addition to other grounds of criminal responsibility for crimes defined and penalized under this Act, a superior shall be criminally responsible as a principal for such crimes committed by subordinates under his/her effective command and control, or effective authority and control as the case may be, as a result of his/her failure to properly exercise control over such subordinates, where:
(a) That superior either knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes;
(b) That superior failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his/her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.
This provision, partnered with the provision in the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) on unauthorized and unlawful intrusion upon or use of any portion of the ancestral domain or any violation of the rights of indigenous peoples enumerated by the IPRA, should put the perpetrators of the crime in jail, starting with the commanding officer of the military unit that pulled the trigger killing this particular tribal leader and his son.