INQUIRER.net 7:02 pm | Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
MANILA, Philippines—The Armed Forces of the Philippines rejected the call of the global human rights group, Amnesty International (AI), not to use government militias or the Special Cafgu Active Auxiliaries (SCAAs) to augment private security forces in mining companies. Cafgu stands for Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit.
Colonel Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, AFP public affairs chief, told reporters on Tuesday that President Benigno Aquino III’s approval of a military proposal to use SCAA in securing mining sites following the attack of three mineral extraction firms in Claver town, Surigao del Norte by members of the New People’s Army recently. The move “would enhance security in the area and would prevent a similar incident to happen.”
He said it will not lead to human rights violations as claimed by the AI, which issued a statement saying the military “cannot ensure proper discipline and accountability for the militias and paramilitary groups, creating an environment conducive to human rights violations.”
Burgos emphasized human rights protection is part of the government militiaman training.
He added the deployment of government militias is the result of consultations and dialogues between mining firms and the military.
“We have more than 40 SCAA companies…. These will enhance security in the area,” Burgos said, adding that locals are recruited as government militia because they have extensive knowledge of their areas of operation compared with other military personnel.
“As far as AFP is concerned, human rights violations have never been tolerated in our ranks. We have given emphasis in protection and promotion of human rights in all aspects of our security operations embodied in Internal Peace and Security Plan – Bayanihan,” he said.
Burgos said that should there be any human rights violations, it would be acted upon immediately, as the AFP is always open in case if they see (any human rights violations) involving personnel.
The military has assigned one non-commissioned officer for every 10 Cafgu personnel to ensure that these militiamen will abide to the military’s “principles” of human rights, Burgos said.
He added that if any militia or military personnel was involve in any human rights violations these should be reported to the AFP.
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