12- November 2012
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio (09209220817)
AFP providing private militias for large-scale mining firms
ACT Teachers Party-List Representative Antonio Tinio slammed government policy of deploying “mining militias” as security forces of foreign mining firms. Citing recent trends, he condemned it as a collusion between the military and these firms to commit human rights violations against locals, including indigenous peoples (IPs).
Tinio’s House Resolution 2246 was among the measures filed by Representatives belonging to the Makabayan bloc, heard by the House Committee on Human Rights in Davao City Friday. HR 2246 called for an investigation into the militarization of Sitio Balabag, Zamboanga del Sur, an area besieged by TVI, a Canadian mining company, and SCAAs under the 1st Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
AFP officials admitted at the hearing that Special CAFGU Active Auxiliaries (SCAAs) are deployed at the request of private firms, whose large-scale mining operations are naturally contested by locals left with no choice but to defend their indigenous lands, livelihood and lives. SCAAs are trained and armed by the Army but are paid by the requesting firm to secure its facilities, equipment and operations.
The AFP also admitted it has increasingly resorted to “non-traditional units” including mining militias, publicly authorized by President Aquino “for the protection and maintenance of vital installations” and to aid “development efforts of the government.”
However, recent trends show that extrajudicial killings, threats, intimidation, demolitions, enforced evacuations of entire communities, and like incidents have increased in areas where large-scale mining firms operate or seek to operate. These human rights violations coincide with heightened militarization—increased deployment of larger regular units of the AFP as well as force multipliers such as CAFGUs, SCAAs, and paramilitaries with links to the AFP.
In Zamboanga del Sur for instance, a third of the 38 total incidents reported to the Philippine National Police are mining-related. Balabag residents including the Subanen and small scale miners report active participation of SCAAs in demolitions, destruction and seizure of property, checkpoints, and other acts of TVI security forces. Expectedly, however, Army officials alleged during the hearing that they found no involvement of its personnel stationed in Balabag.
“Without effective accountability mechanisms and considering the source of their compensation, mining militias answer to large multinationals,” countered Tinio. “By authorizing them, President Aquino has shown that he considers destructive mining as a ‘vital installation’ and he has no qualms in fielding soldiers to serve the interests of foreign businesses, not that of the people’s.”
Tinio vowed to mount a Congressional review towards the abolition of the policy. ###
Office of Representative Antonio L. Tinio