Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Vows to Dismantle Private Armies"

"Vows to Dismantle Private Armies"

A work by Edgar Cadagat in his article "The Meat of the Matter"

AFP-PNP VOW TO DISMANTLE PRIVATE ARMIES. After the announcement by Malacañang of the setting up of a Commission chaired by a retired Supreme Court (SC) justice, to work out the disbanding of these private armed groups, by coming up with its recommendations within four months, AFP and PNP top officers, after a meeting, declared that even without the commission, they will see to it that they will move to do the same as it is their duty to do so.

The vow coming after the barbaric act committed by the possibly biggest private army in the country, controlled by the Ampatuan warlord clan, aided, abetted and supported by the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, could not, of course, be but greeted with strong skepticisms because it was the AFP and some units of the PNP which trained, armed and tolerated the more than 3,000 members of the Ampatuan warlord clan.

Now fully thinking that whatever they will do would be sanctioned and glossed over by the PGMA regime, the warlord clan, led by Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. fearful of the strong challenge by the Mangudadatu family which was fielding a gubernatorial bet in the May 2010 elections, sought to once and for all, eliminate their political rivals, even in the process murdering 31 journalists in cold-blood and in a bloodthirsty manner.

The murder of 57 people, including journalists all innocents, including the rape and wanton sexual violation of several women, which completed the orgy of murder and violence committed by the Ampatuans, resulted in a crescendo of condemnation and calls for an end to the culture of impunity and justice for all the victims in the worse-ever killings in the world.

With the setting up of the commission and the vow of the AFP and PNP to dismantle private armies nationwide, some actions toward these are being undertaken and which we have to see.

STEPS TOWARDS DISMANTLING. The AFP and PNP have declared that they already have a list of private armed groups in their possession. We believe this could include private armed groups in Negros island and specifically in the province. Those considered to harbor and nurture private armed groups, would probably be summoned by military and police authorities and confronted about the reports that they keep private armies, which by definition would compromise two or over two or three armed men controlled by a warlord, big or small. But again, as we said, we still have to see whether this will actually be done by the AFP and PNP, given that as in the Maguindanao warlord army, these were used to mitigate the rebellion of Moro rebels, including in the past, of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), lately headed by Nur Misuari and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), to include what is considered a terrorist group, the Abu Sayyaf.*

STRATEGIC ALLIANCE FORGED BY MILITARY CAUSE OF PRIVATE ARMIES’ RISE. In the historical context of the rise, growth and institutionalization of private armies, the political and military alliance which had been a key policy of US involvement in the Vietnam War and in counter-insurgency operations in Latin and Central America, to include Africa and other parts of the world, could be the essential cause of private armies’ proliferation, also even in the Philippines.

In Vietnam for example during the war, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives enlisted hill tribes in Vietnam and Laos, in the counter-insurgency war. Among those enlisted in the campaign were the HMong Tribe who were lately forcibly returned to their areas from Thailand.

In the Philippines, in the SOCSARGEN area, tribes were enlisted by the military against rebels of the NPAs.

During the period then President Corazon Aquino was in power, she totally succumbed to US counter-insurgency strategy and tactics by declaring the total war strategy using the gradual constriction strategy enunciated by now retired Gen. Victor Corpuz.

A key part of this strategy, was hamletting still being used under the present Oplan Bantay Laya Two with the innovation of extrajudicial killings. This was similar to Oplan Phoenix than used in Vietnam.

In the implementation of the Total War Strategy, the Aquino government allowed the establishment of various irregular armed groups, several of which were armed and controlled by landowners to include paramilitary armed units also in counter-insurgency.

We were then a reporter for various newspapers, both national and local and we knew that, in almost every town and city and locality in both Negros Occidental and Oriental provinces, armed groups proliferated.

We still have data on these armed groups in our files and we will publish these, as part of our data or information-discrimination more so of the tolerance and encouragement of the government in the organization of these armed groups. The most and the biggest armed militia, vigilant and privately-funded armed groups were during the period then supposedly democratic President Corazon Aquino, held sway.

These armed groups were classified as right-wing vigilantes and were part of the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC), strategy of the US government which, as its puppet, the Philippine government, fully adopted.

So, in 1986, these groups were organized all over the country and in Negros which even included armed, religious cultists sporting colored names such as pulahan, putian, greenan, ituman and others. The vigilantes included within its ranks criminal elements and bandits, as the government had no compunction in using these such as in Maguindanao, as long as they fought against rebels.

In the process, these armed groups committed heinous crimes and atrocities of the worse kind.

RIGHT WING VIGILANTES. In Negros then, the vigilantes were divided into right wing vigilante groups, religious fanatical groups, and even more so, bandit groups. During the Aquino period, government-organized paramilitary groups, the Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Units (CAFGUs) composed of those funded by government as CAFGU Auxiliary (CAA), and the Special CAFGU Auxiliary which could be funded by corporations, companies or private individuals cropped up. The Sugar Development Fund (SDF), was used to collect liens from sugar planters to fund the establishment of militia groups with their handlers, some of them from coup d’ etat soldiers who were left without any job.

Among the rightwing vigilantes then organized were:

(1) Alsa Masa whose political arm was the Bantay Banwa. It was given approval by then Kabankalan Vice Mayor Ernesto Tingson with then PC Provincial Commander Col. Miguel Coronel as invited guest.

This was in 1987. The Alsa Masa which had 3,000 members in Kabankalan City then, was organized all over Negros Island, with one of its major targets the Catholic Church.

(2) (Philippine Constabulary Forward Command (PCFC). Mainly formed then in Northern Negros with popular names being present-day politicians and landowners. Those were engaged in counter-insurgency operations. The PCFC was blamed for uncountable human rights violations.

(3) El Tigre- A shadowy group believed linked to sugar planters in the province and strongly anti-communist.

(4) Kagawasan Alang Sa Demokrasya Ug Reporma (KADRE) originated in Cebu and was brought here to Negros especially in the Central Negros area by Jun Alcover now with Bantay partylist its leading exponent being the now retired Gen. Jovito Palparan.

(5) Anti-Communist Thrust in Oriental Negros (ACTION) - was then organized by PC Provincial Commander Col. Samuel Tomas. ACTION had more than a dozen member-organizations with the same objectives.

(6) Negros Foundation for Peace and Democracy (NFPD) - which was then based in Bacolod with prominent leaders being Negros businessmen.

(7) Movement for Independent Negros (MIN)-Organized in 1987 with sugar planters, businessmen and a lawyer identified as some of its leading elements. (8) Knights of Rizal or Rizalistas. With many members then in Candoni town and in Pamplona town in Negros Oriental/

(9) The religious fanatic group Tadtad or the Sagrado Corazon Señor.

(10) Pumuluyong Pilipino Kontra Komunismo (PPKK).

(11) Concerned Catholics of Negros (CCN).

(12) Kristiano Kontra Komunismo (KKK) Issued statement after grenade-throwing incidents in April, 1987 in the Domus Dei residence of the late Bacolod Bishop Msgr. Antonio Y. Fortich.

(13) Salvatoree Group - then headed by Pidong Libre

(14) Anti-Communist Fighters (ACF) (15) Philippine Divine Missionaries for Christ (PDMC).

(16) Bandit Groups during this period included the Nelson Merjamin Group operating in far Northern Negros.

(17) Bobby Lumanog Group

(18) Jory Alsado Group (19) Rufino Enterrolizo Group

(20) Ehen Marcelino Group

(21) Lawin Group - Then operated in Siaton Town, Negros Oriental

(22) Narciso Himol Group - had links with the military. A bandit group

(23) Demetrio Suarez Group - also operated in Negros Oriental, with links to the PC.

(24) Bulagaw Group - Negros Oriental

(25) Herminio Valiente Group - Negros Oriental

(26) Armed religious cultists

- Greenan - Hinobaan - Pulahan - Don Salvador Benedicto town

- Ituman - Calatrava

- Putian - Toboso town

- Power of the Spirit - then headed by Baldomero Lopez and later by his son, Paterno Lopez

This was years ago and we do not know whether these groups still exist.

* Url: http://www.ndb-online.com/jan2110c5