Sunday, September 26, 2010

Philippine armed forces protecting big mining firms

Philippine armed forces protecting big mining firms*

By Banaue Miles and Gerry Albert Corpuz

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines- The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) led Cordillera People's Democratic Front (CPDF) accused the Philippine military of performing the role of private army of large scale mining companies operating in the region.

Simon Naogsan, CPDF spokesperson said the Fifth Infantry Division under Commander MGen. Rommel Gomez had increased the deployment of troops to the the mining sites currently applied for mining by Cordillera Exploration Company (CEXI)/Anglo-American Group PLC in the tri-boundary of Sagada, Bauko and Tadian.

Last week, top military officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) offered their troops services to big time offshore mining giants operating in Palawan sea and other potential oil and gas sites offered by the Manila government for exploration.

The CPDF spokesman linked MGen. Gomez’ call for fresh local recruits for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the denial of food, shelter, and protection to the New People's Army to the resurgence of all-out mining in the region and on the other hand, the denial of base and the distortion of the struggle for ancestral domain.

Psy war

In a statement sent to various media outlets in Manila, a copy of which was obtained by, the CPDF further accused the AFP of engaging in round-the-clock psy war.

"Portraying the military as the people’s partner in achieving peace and development is a vile psywar ploy. It is the massive militarization of the Cordillera that causes destruction of ancestral lands and resources and interferes with and violates indigenous rights to use, protect and develop ancestral lands," it said.

The CPDF added: The military mindset that arbitrarily classifies anyone within their areas of operations as either friend or foe, shows the AFP’s lack of sensitivity to local culture. The merciless killing of civilians during military operations and the imposition of virtual martial law that restricts farmers from tending to their crops, hunting, or cutting firewood clearly attest to this fact."

According to CPDF, since the Marcos dictatorship, military troops have been sent to the Cordillera for “peacekeeping and development” missions that have turned out to be nothing more than protecting big extractive industries such as dams, mines, and geothermal projects that threatened to or actually displaced thousands of Cordillerans.

"And now comes MGen. Gomez, who has the audacity to say that his troops are here to protect ancestral lands and children?" it said.

The CPDF noted that while MGen. Gomez calls the Cordillera people to watch over their children, but he is blind to the fact that Igorot children are displaced and put at risk when AFP troopers use day care centers and school buildings as barracks and villages as their garrisons.

"The general keeps wailing foul and repeats the lie that the seven soldiers ambushed last July 9 in Samoki, Bontoc, Mountain Province were on their way to a medical mission. Far from it, the soldiers were on a mission to force local executives to sign an agreement to join in the counter-insurgency effort.", noted CPDF.

The NDFP also scored the malicious insistence of the 5th ID for localized peace talks instead of the resumption of the stalled peace talks at the national level is a futile implementation of the divide-and-rule tactic and clearly shows their insincerity and vileness. The 5th ID espouses the Convergence Approach, a program that carries all the features of the US Counter-Insurgency Guide.

"The struggle for the genuine defense of land, life and resources is the struggle against militarization and the aggression of foreign and local big extractive industries. It is time that Igorot military officers realize that the Igorot masses and the revolutionary forces will resolutely stand together and will be undaunted by force or lies," the NDFP said.

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