Tag Archives: CAFGU

Militants slam Noynoy for backing private armies

By Sarsi Pimentel and Cherry de Belen

MANILA, Philippines – The activist fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) assailed on Monday Liberal Party (LP) presidential standard bearer Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III over his position favoring the retention and proliferation of paramilitary forces popularly known as CAFGUs (Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units) and CVOs (Civilian Volunteer Organizations) to defend communities against communist rebels and Islamic militants.

Aquino, one of the frontrunners in the May 10 presidential election had told Kenneth Roth, executive director of the US-based human rights group Human Rights Watch that paramilitary groups are essential in the fight against the New People’s Army and other armed groups all over the country. The LP presidential standard bearer made the response when asked by Roth on how his administration would deal with private armies, which are established and supported by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Roth said leading presidential candidates in the May 2010 polls like Aquino lack clear policies on how to solve human rights issues and problems arising from the use and spread of private armies all over the country.

The human rights watchdog was hopeful the next President understands that the issue of private armies is a huge problem and it is something to be tackled as matter of priority adding that it will propose a set of legislative and executive measures to the next administration on how to resolve human rights problems arising from proliferation of private armies.

“We are not surprise with the position taken by Senator Aquino in favor of paramilitary forces. The Cojuangco-Aquino family also formed and availed the services of private armies to keep Hacienda Luisita under feudal and brutal rule. If he wins the presidency in 2010, Noynoy and family will surely revive and strengthen their private armed group in the name of their unlawful and immoral claim on Hacienda Luisita,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

Citing the 2009 human rights report filed by Karapatan, Hicap said from January 2001 to December 2009, the Arroyo administration committed grave human rights violations, including but not limited to cases involving 1,188 victims of extrajudicial killings and 205 victims of enforced disappearances, majority of these victims are leftwing activists and critics of the Arroyo government.

Hicap said the CAFGUs and other paramilitary forces and private armies are the traditional partners in crimes of the AFP in terrorizing communities believed to be strongholds of the New People’s Army or under the political influence of militant organizations which the military alleged as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed group- the NPA and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

On January, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decision to exempt the Civilian Active Auxiliaries (CAA) from the total gun ban triggered an outrage among human rights activists in the country.

Pamalakaya asserted the Comelec decision is extremely dangerous, politically incorrect and fatally flawed, asserting that these CAAs formerly known as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) are commissioned as private armies and armed goons by warlord politicians to further their political interests.

The group said poll body’s decision puts a legal blanket to the killing spree and human rights violation activities of paramilitary units, which they perform in accordance with the cruel intention and sinister agenda of the sitting presidency in Malacanang, the pro-Arroyo military clique and their warlord allies.

Pamalakaya said the correct treatment of Comelec in dealing with CAFGUs is to officially disband these paramilitary groups due to their long-running violations of human rights. The group said the tragic lessons drawn from the Nov.23 Maguindanao massacre last year should have compelled poll officials to direct the AFP to permanently dismantle all existing CAFGUs and quit from hiring fresh recruits to avoid if not minimize election related violence.

Pamalakaya said the Maguindanao massacre should compel Aquino and other presidentiables to effectively drop this blueprint for terror and impunity rather than adopt a pro-paramilitary forces policy.

The Comelec said the CAAs are allowed to carry firearms because they are considered units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which are exempted from the nationwide gun ban imposed by the poll body during election period.

Under Comelec resolution 8742 made effective last January 11, amending Resolution 8714, the CAFGU was exempted from gun ban along with members of the Presidential Security Group, Bureau of Fire Protection, Optical Media Board, the treasurers and deputy treasurers and members of the Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Treasury.

Prior to Comelec promulgation of Resolution 8714, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao opposed the disarming of CAAs because these paramilitary groups are tapped by fishing companies to secure their venture in the South. For his part, Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of Western Command said as far as the military is concerned, the CAFGUs are part of the military organization and not all CAFGUs are utilized by private companies operating in far flung areas. #

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International observers told: Watch AFP on partisan politics

By Pepsi La Loma and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines- The leaders of the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged on Sunday asked members of the international community observing the conduct of the May 2010 elections to monitor the possible involvement of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) identified with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in partisan politics.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap and Pamalakaya-Vice chairperson Salvador France noted the Western election observers have focused their attention on the preparations of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and have missed one vital electoral issue, which is the partisan politics and electioneering conducted by pro-Arroyo officials in the AFP against candidates critical of the Arroyo administration that includes two progressive senatorial candidates and left-leaning party lists.

The Pamalakaya officials appealed to the US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) to also monitor and entertain reports and cases against AFP officials and rank-and-file personnel accused of engaging in partisan politics and electioneering.

Hicap and France asked Jamie Metzl of NDI, Thomas Barry, deputy regional director of NDI for Asia, Sam Gejdenson, former member of US Congress, Nora Owen, former justice minister of Ireland and Sue Wood, former president of the New Zealand National Party to put premium on documented reports that the military are campaigning for pro-administration bets and on the other hand are campaigning against certain candidates and party lists highly critical of the Arroyo administration.

“The pro-GMA clique in the AFP is in command of all these dirty electoral campaign against progressive candidates and party lists. It is blatantly and brazenly violating provisions of the 1987 Constitution that illegalize any kind or form of military partisan politics and electioneering. We appeal to the members of the international community to give proper attention to this militarist agenda of the pro-Arroyo faction in the AFP,” the Pamalakaya leaders said.

Pamalakaya also asked members of the Western electoral watchdog to remain until June 30 to complete their observation and make an objective preliminary assessment of the May 2010 elections. The militant group said the March 12 to March 17 schedule of NDI electoral observers was short and will not give them even a comprehensive overview on how the Arroyo government and Comelec commence the 2010 elections under its stewardship.

The militant group had pressed Comelec chairman Jose Melo to invoke the constitutional provision banning all military officials and government troops from exercising partisan politics in lieu of reports that that some members of the AFP are engaged in campaigning against Makabayan senatorial candidates—Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza and activist party lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis.

‘The commissioners of Comelec headed by Chairman Melo should impose an iron hand policy against officials and members of the AFP engaged in partisan politics. The military is violating the 1987 Constitution pertaining to partisan politics and this political-military adventure sanctioned by the ruling party in Malacanang must be put to an end,” the group said.

Leaders and members of Pamalakaya in Sorsogon said the military in the province are conducting house-to-house campaign in the province calling on all voters not to vote for militant party lists like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan Party and Act Teachers party list. The party lists formed Makabayan coalition party that includes Katribu party list, a new party list representing indigenous people and national minority groups in the country.

On Feb.23, Army Major Arnal Manjares hurt one of the campaigners of Makabayan during a house-to-house sortie, while conducting house-to-house campaign for progressive party lists and senatorial candidates Ocampo and Maza.

Based on the report reaching the headquarters of Bayan Muna in Quezon City, Manjares slapped the face of the volunteer and threatened the victim and his companions that they would be killed and harmed if they come back again and campaign for leftwing party lists and candidates in the area.

Pamalakaya said in the last May 2007 elections, cases of partisan politics specifically against Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela party lists were also documented Castilla Sorsogon, San Luis, Isabela, Nasugbu, Tanauan and Taysan in Batangas, Dasmarinas, Cavite, Cordon, and Cauayan, and San Luis Roxas, Isabela, Tuburan, Iloilo, Tubod, Lanao Del Norte, Palimbang Sultan Kudarat, Baggao, Cagayan, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, Kolambugan and Tubod Lanao del Norte, Roxas, Mindoro Oriental, Masbate, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

There were also documented cases of military partisan politics against progressive party lists in Gumaca, Lucena, Sariaya, Candelaria, Lucena, Pagbilao, Gen. Luna and Macalelon, all in Quezon province, Alangalang and Tacloban in Leyte, North Cotabato, Marikina City, Makati City, any parts of Camarines Norte, Sa. Rosa, Laguna, Lavenzares, North Samar, Abuyog, Cagayan Valley, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Marawi City, many polling places in Lanao del Sur and many canvassing areas in Isabela.

Pamalakaya said the forms of military and police involvement include abductions and salvaging of progressive party list leaders and poll watchers, Illegal presence inside canvass areas or roaming around polling places and canvass areas, harassment of voters and forcing them not to vote militant party lists and instead vote for Palace backed party lists like Bantay of Rep. Jovito Palparan, transporting of ballot boxes in canvass areas, banning militant party list poll watchers inside the canvass areas and selecting only those they want to allow to enter, acting as bodyguards of candidates, presence of APC and 6×6 trucks near polling places and canvass areas, police counting the votes in precinct, the shooting and wounding of a Bayan Muna leader, the burning of school rooms, the Illegal arrest of poll watchers and the threatening Comelec official.

Pamalakaya also reiterated its call for Comelec to recall its previous decision allowing CAGGUs and other paramilitary units to carry fire arms during the election season. The militant group asserted that the long experience and track record of CAFGUs in partisan politics, acting as paid goons and private armies of powerful politicians, the poll body should have recalled its resolution and pursued the across-the-nation disbandment of special civilian armed forces.
Under Comelec resolution 8742 made effective last January 11, amending Resolution 8714, the CAFGU was exempted from gun ban along with members of the Presidential Security Group, Bureau of Fire Protection, Optical Media Board, the treasurers and deputy treasurers and members of the Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Treasury.
Prior to Comelec promulgation of Resolution 8714, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao opposed the disarming of CAAs because these paramilitary groups are tapped by fishing companies to secure their venture in the South. For his part, Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of Western Command said as far as the military is concerned, the CAFGUs are part of the military organization and not all CAFGUs are utilized by private companies operating in far flung areas. #

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Manila bound marching farmers slam poll body’s ok for CAFGU to carry arms in May 2010 elections

By Roy Morilla, Lakbayan pointperson in Mindanao
and Gerry Albert Corpuz, senior reporter, The Pamalakaya Times

Davao City, Philippines-Organizers of the 10-day Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan on Wednesday assailed the decision of the Commission on Election (Comelec) exempting the Civilian Active Auxiliaries (CAA) from the total gun ban.

In a joint press statement, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and Anakpawis party list said the Comelec decision is extremely dangerous, politically incorrect and fatally flawed, asserting that these CAAs formerly known as Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) are commissioned as private armies and armed goons by warlord politicians all over the country.

“The Comelec decision exempting CAFGUs from the total gun ban is a major political, legal and moral blunder. The poll body merely puts a legal blanket to the killing spree and human rights violation activities of these paramilitary units, which they perform in accordance with the cruel intention and sinister agenda of the sitting presidency in Malacanang, the pro-Arroyo military clique and their warlord allies,” the groups said in their statement.

KMP secretary general Danilo Ramos said the correct treatment of Comelec in dealing with CAFGUs is to officially disband these paramilitary groups due to their long-running violations of human rights at any given period. “The best way to address the issue is to call for the immediate and unconditional disbandment of CAFGUs, period, period, period,” the KMP official said.

For her part, Anakpawis secretary general Cherry Clemente said the tragic lessons drawn from the Nov.23 Maguindanao massacre last year should have compelled poll officials to direct the AFP to permanently dismantle all existing CAFGUs and quit from hiring fresh recruits to avoid if not minimize election related violence.

“Please allow us to reiterate the record straight–57 people were massacred by special CAA forces in Maguindanao last year. Is that a joke or a remote incident to Comelec? Where is their sense of human rights, justice and political sensibility?” Clemente added.

Comelec commissioner Lucenito Tagle yesterday said the CAAs are allowed to carry firearms because they are considered units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which are exempted from the nationwide gun ban imposed by the poll body during election period.
Organizers of Pambansang Lakbayan ng Anakpawis Para sa Lupa at Katarungan said aside from land and justice and concrete issues and struggles on agrarian reform, the grueling 10-day long caravan and long march from different parts of Mindanao, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Panay, Negros, Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley regions to the National Capital Region will also call for the dismantling of CAFGU units across the country.

Under Comelec resolution 8742 made effective last January 11, amending Resolution 8714, the CAFGU was exempted from gun ban along with members of the Presidential Security Group, Bureau of Fire Protection, Optical Media Board, the treasurers and deputy treasurers and members of the Internal Security Division of the Bureau of Treasury.

Prior to Comelec promulgation of Resolution 8714, Rear Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao opposed the disarming of CAAs because these paramilitary groups are tapped by fishing companies to secure their venture in the South. For his part, Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, chief of Western Command said as far as the military is concerned, the CAFGUs are part of the military organization and not all CAFGUs are utilized by private companies operating in far flung areas.

As of press time, organizers said 50 peasant and fisherfolk activists belonging to KMP, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis party list from Mindanao island will embark on their way to Liloan, Leyte, while the Visayan leg of the 10-day Lakbayan composed of 100 farmers and fishermen will start in Cebu before the caravan and march proceed to Calbayog City in Samar island.

From Samar, the joint contingent will proceed to Bicol on their way to Southern Tagalog and National Capital Region. The marchers are expected to cross Muntinlupa City on Jan.20 and will stage another long march on Jan.22 to Don Chino Roces in Manila on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of Mendiola massacre.

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