Kiblawan Mayor Marivic Diamante said Thursday she has asked for the pullout of policemen helping secure the facilities of Xstrata’s Sagittarius Mines Inc. here and their replacement by the Army.
Diamante made the announcement barely a week after another policeman was killed in an ambush allegedly by B’laan natives opposed SMI’s presence here and in nearby South Cotabato.
P01 Rommel Paccial, a member of the Kiblawan police, was escorting Insp. Efren Luzon, the Kiblawan police chief, to the provincial police headquarters in Digos City when they were ambushed on August 9.
Luzon escaped unscathed but Paccial was critically wounded and died while undergoing treatment at a hospital.
The ambush was the latest attack blamed on a group of armed B’laans, allegedly led by the brothers Dagil, Kitara and Batas Capion, whom Diamante described as plain bandits.
On June 26, retired police Supt. Villamendo Hectin, a security consultant of Sagittarius Mines Inc., was killed in a similar attack. A few days after Hectin’s death, suspected B’laan natives ambushed another convoy of vehicles associated with SMI, wounding a police officer.
The attacks prompted SMI to suspend operations in the area last month.
“This time we have to be tough,” Diamante said, vowing to pursue the perpetrators. “My patience has run out.”
Diamante said she has met police and military officials to draw up a plan on how to suppress the armed men. She said a meeting with village officials of Kimlawis, Balasiaw, Bololsalo and Tacub was also held in connection with the plan, which she declined to elaborate on however.
Diamante said she was asking for military intervention because the town’s police force had no capability to run after the armed men.
“I don’t want this incident to happen again,” she said.
Meanwhile, Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel said an investigation into the cause of the problem should be conducted instead of dismissing the attacks as plain acts of banditry.
Rita Dialang, a sister of the Capions, said earlier her brothers were not bandits and that they were making “a sacrifice in defense of the tribe’s ancestral land and in defense of our way of life.”
“Forest, to us, is like a vast market. We get everything we need out there. It is our hunting ground, our drugstore, our farmland and our sanctuary. Destroy the forest and you also destroy our lives,” she said.