Karapatan questions sincerity of BS Aquino to dismantle private armies

Karapatan called BS Aquino’s “intensified campaign against private armies to ensure clean and credible elections next year” as the height of the government’s hypocrisy saying that “the dismantling of paramilitary groups has long been ignored by the regime, despite repeated calls from both here and in the international community.”
“The BS Aquino regime should start in its own backyard as it controls and maintains a vast army of paramilitary groups—the Civilian Auxiliary Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA), Investment Defense Force (IDF), and other AFP force multipliers in its counterinsurgency campaign such as Alamara, NIPAR, De la Mance group,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.  

“These groups do not include a huge yellow army employed at the Cojuangco-Aquino owned Hacienda Luisita, which continues to harass and abuse the farmworkers who continue to fight for their land ownership. ” Aside from counterinsurgency operations, the paramilitary groups are trained by the AFP to protect big business interests,” Karapatan said. . 

The case of John Calaba, who remains missing since April 30, is one example of how these private armies are used to quell opposition to the intrusion of big business into peasant and indigenous communities.  Calaba is Public Information Officer of KIDUMA, an organization opposed to the logging and mining projects of David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI), which displaced peasants and Manobo tribes away from their farms and ancestral land. The DMCI has employed the AFP’s SCAA as early as 2008 to “secure” its business interests in the different parts of the country such as in Mobo, Masbate, in Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and in Sultan Kudarat, Calaba’s hometown. 

The Alamara paramilitary group, attached tounder the 72nd and 60th IBPA, has a host of rights abuses committed against the indigenous communities in Davao del Norte. As early as 2002, Karapatan has documented cases of human rights violations involving Alamara, directly or as back-up of the military during operations. The cases include extrajudicial killings, harassment and intimidation, and massacre.

Recently, Alamara figured in the raid of Haran-United Church of Christ in the Philippines’ compound in Davao City that served as shelter to some 7600 evacuees from Davao del Norte and Bukidnon since April 2015. “Alamara was used to complement the local police force and soldiers to force the evacuees to return to their homes, upon the agitation of Rep. Nancy Catamco,” said Palabay. The evacuees left their communities because of military operations and consequent human rights violations committed against the people. 

Alamara is forcibly recruiting indigenous people into their group. The last batch of evacuees in Haran-UCCP left their communities because of this forcible recruitment. 

“Since martial law up to the present these paramilitary groups have been synonymous with terror and human rights abuses. They should be dismantled now!” ended Palabay. ###

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