17 August 2017
The lucrative business of bombing the Lumad
The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ recently exposed plans to storm and harass the ‘bakwit’ (evacuation) camp of indigenous Lumad students, parents, and teachers in the University of the Philippines campus is the latest attack against the rights of the Lumad by the military.
The AFP’s threat, reportedly an inter-agency effort with personnel from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and the Department of Justice, among others, comes on the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte parroting the military’s baseless accusations that the more than 200 alternative schools set up by the Lumad across Mindanao are operated by communist rebels and thus should be bombed.
These are the very same schools that have been accredited by the Department of Education in its Alternative Learning System (ALS) and Indigenous Peoples’ Education (IPED) programs, and which have been given various awards and recognitions for their academic and socio-civic achievements. These are the very same schools established by the Lumad precisely because the national government cannot provide them their basic right to education.
None of that matters to a logic fueled by nothing but gunpowder. It is a logic driven not just by a militarist viewpoint that all activists are simply New People’s Army rebels without guns, but also by the corrupt mercenary nature of the military.
The AFP has an ongoing racket of collecting millions of pesos worth of bounty for the capture or murder of suspected NPA members. Bayan Muna legislator Carlos Zarate pointed out that under the previous regime, it came in the form of a DND-DILG joint order listing alleged wanted communists with a total monetary reward of P466.88 million. They collected through fake arrests such as the 2012 case of security guard Rolando Panesa, falsely alleged by the AFP then as a top-ranking communist official.
With General Ano’s proposal to dish out a P100,000 bounty for every captured or killed suspected NPA member, the running joke on social media is that the AFP’s attempt to storm the Lumad bakwit camp in UP is to arrest the 300 protesting Lumad students, parents, and teachers to collect an easy P30 million loot.
The military also collects a steadily increasing bounty from our public funds, usually at the expense of basic social services. Human rights group Karapatan recently exposed how the proposed 2018 national budget allocates a more than P300-billion war chest to fund the Duterte regime’s war on drugs, war on terror, and all-out war against the NPA.
Corporations also pour funds into the military to tap them as private security for their projects, which the AFP in turn declares as ‘vital installations’ of ‘national interest.’ In a 2013 congressional investigation, it was revealed that Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), then affiliated with Anglo-Swiss mining transnational corporation (TNC) Glencore-Xstrata, was paying a P1-million monthly allowance for government paramilitaries protecting its project area.
In a 2015 Forbes magazine article, Manuel Zamora, owner of the Nickel Asia mining company that serves as ‘middle man’ to Japanese mining TNC Sumitomo, bluntly confirmed that they funded a Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) unit trained and supervised by the AFP to guard their business interests.
The US government also continues to be one of the biggest contributors to our military financing. Karapatan noted that the AFP received over $749.65 million worth of assistance for “peace and security” including counter-terrorism assistance from 2001 to 2016.
The AFP thus apparently sees militarization as their lucrative ‘bread and butter’ business, and the Lumad and various other rural communities are their milking cows. How appalling that there exists an institution who unflinchingly profit from the bullets, shells, and bombs that rain down on the country’s poorest of poor!
We call on Congress to not be party to this ethnocide and deny Duterte his P300-billion war chest. We also urge our legislators to investigate the AFP’s various other sources of funding, including the mining money pouring into paramilitaries and investment defense forces of the AFP.
Lastly, we call on the Filipino people to stand in solidarity with the Lumad people against the ‘business as usual’ of militarization and plunder continuing under the Duterte regime. The Lumad bakwit camp will stay at the UP until Duterte vows to protect their schools from the atrocities of the AFP. Help us sustain their camp until the president finally listens to reason.#
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Kalikasan – People’s Network for the Environment
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