Military Coercing LGUs in North, Reds Say

By NORTHERN DISPATCH

BAGUIO CITY — The 5th Infantry Division is imposing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the local government units that violates the principle of civilian supremacy over the military, Simon “Ka Filiw” Naogsan, spokesman of the the Cordillera Peoples’ Democratic Front (CPDF), said in a statement sent to the media.

In the said MOA, local governments are asked to shoulder some of the expenses in the maintenance of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Units (Cafgu).

“This passes the expense to the already financially burdened LGUs and provides an easy way for the generals to save on expenses and possibly line their pockets with public funds. LGU funds and resources that can be put to more use for the people will be diverted to the unproductive counter-insurgency operations,” added Naogsan.

Naogsan said drafts of the MOA have been pressed by the 5th ID on the local provincial executives and the police superintendents of Ifugao and the Mountain Province. A similar MOA was signed between the local provincial executive of Kalinga and the commanding officer of the 5th ID. “When signed, the MOA makes the 5th ID a virtual higher authority over the provincial governments,” Naogsan said.

The MOA, Naogsan said, is “is a desperate act and coercive measure that worsens national oppressions of the national minorities in the Cordillera region.”

Naogsan added that the MOA is based on several controversial laws such as Executive Orders 773 and 739 which were criticized even by the House of Senate and some local government officials.

EO 773 reorganizes the Peace and Order Councils (POC) creating POCs on the national, regional, provincial and down to the city or municipal formations. Meanwhile, under EO 739, the National Peace and Order Council shall have the same composition as the national Security Council except for its chairmanship.

“Under EO 773, the Philippine Army has control over local governments under the guise of Peace and Order Councils (POC). These POCs will turn local government and police forces into adjuncts of the military in the counter-insurgency campaign,” Naogsan said.

Naogsan likened the MOA to the “draconian divide-and-rule tactics of the Marcos dictatorship and the subsequent administrations” that he said failed to suppress the revolutionary movement and insist development aggression against the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera.

Naogsan also said the atmosphere of fear and chaos will prevail in the mountain villages of the region as long as there are Igorot officers who are hell-bent and ever ready to use their own province as a laboratory for new counter insurgency operations. “If Igorot military officers are willing and ready to sacrifice their kailian (fellow tribesmen) for the advancement of their careers, then they will exacerbate the misery of the people,” he said.

Naogsan said that it is the peace of the grave through militarization that Gen. Rommel Gomez wants to achieve through the MOA. He said that LGU executives must look first at the records of Gomez who hails from Bontoc.

“Last January, Gen. Gomez went home to Bontoc to call for peace in the Mountain Province, then a few days later unleashed his troops on upland Bontoc and northern Sagada. In 1999, as commander of the 69th IB, he allowed his troops to engage in the shoot-out during the raging Dalican–Pidlisan tribal conflict,” Naogsan said.

“This indicates the insensitivity of Gen. Gomez to the intricacies of Cordillera communities and shows he has no genuine interest in solving the problems of the national minorities in the Cordillera. If he continues to protect the interest of the ruling classes through an aggressive military campaign, then he inflicts harm and betrays his fellow Cordillerans. He will surely earn the mistrust and ire of the people,” said Naogsan.

The CPDF spokesperson said the MOA fits in with the peace and order situation demanded by the planned exploration activities of the Cordillera Exploration Inc. (CEXI)/Anglo-American PLC Group in 1,800 hectares in three municipalities of western Mountain Province, as well as the planned geothermal power plants in the boundary of Ifugao and Benguet, in Sadanga and Bontoc.

“The MOA is an empty and futile instrument. It will not stop the people from asserting their rights to self-determination and to the defense of their ancestral land and resources,” Naogsan said. (Bulatlat.com)

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