Group renews call to disband paramilitary groups amid terror in Bukidnon
RIGHTS group Karapatan today reiterated its call on Pres. Noynoy Aquino to disband paramilitary groups, as “these are not only Martial Law relics that persist to this day, but are mercenary appendages of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that continue to sow terror and violence among the people.”
Cristina Palabay said that the New Indigenous People’s Army Reform (NIPAR), a known paramilitary group under the control of the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, struck anew in Brgy. Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon, as they set up camp, threatened and harassed indigenous peoples in the area, resulting to the forced evacuation of 12 families to Malaybalay, in front of the Provincial Capitol. According to the residents, NIPAR and its leaders Alde and Benjamin Salusad used brute force and harassment to force them to allow large-scale mining in their 52,000-hectare ancestral domain.
The Salusads and members of NIPAR and the 8th IBPA are being held responsible for the killing of Dao indigenous leader and village chief Jimmy Liguyon on March 5 this year. “Despite the warrants of arrest against Alde Salusad and others issued in April 18, they have remained untouchable and are freely terrorizing these communities, with the generous support from the AFP,” she added.
In September 3, while the evacuees were holding a rally, with the youth sector, in front of the provincial capitol, at least eight masked men on motorcycles harassed them, destroyed their amplifier and snatched streamers and tarpaulins.
“Since martial law up to the present dispensation of Pres. Noynoy Aquino, paramilitary groups– then called the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), and currently known as the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) today—have been synonymous with terror and human rights abuses, as they are seen as crucial elements of counter-insurgency programs such as Marcos’ Oplan Katatagan/Operation Sagittarius and Noynoy’s Oplan Bayanihan. They are meant to silence the legitimate opposition of the people to anti-poor projects of the government,” Palabay explained.
She recalled that during martial law, paramilitary groups were involved in the extrajudicial killing of missionaries like Fr. Tullio Favali; while Fr. Fausto Tentorio was also reportedly killed in October 2011 by paramilitary groups known as Baganis because of his vocal opposition to Oplan Bayanihan and militarization of communities.
Karapatan said Aquino should immediately revoke Executive Order 546, a decree legitimizing the use of civilian military groups as force multipliers in combating rebel groups; and his recent order that enabled the expansion and strengthening of the Special CAFGU Auxiliary Action (SCAA) to protect operations of mining firms.