Charlie V. Manalo
The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusan Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said yesterday soldiers commissioned to provide security to mining companies or private firms should quit military service, saying it would be illegal, immoral and unethical for government troops to serve private interests in the name of public service.
In a statement, Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap said it is grossly insulting to Filipino taxpayers, since public funds are used to pay soldiers’ salaries, yet they do not serve national interest, and instead act as the army of profit-starved mining companies in the country.
“The national government is spending billions in taxpayers’ money to protect the selfish interest of transnational mining firms. This is not only illegal, this is condemnable to the highest order,” Hicap said.
The militant group made the reaction after Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro justified the deployment of government troops to provide security to mining companies and private firms, saying there are guidelines for Special Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary as long as it is in pursuit of regulation.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed the tie up between the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and DMCI Mining Corp. to protect at least 3,700 hectares of ore-rich land in Sta.Cruz, Zambales.
The arrangement, which was included a memorandum of agreement (MoA) signed in July 2007, saw the Army deploying an officer, 11 soldiers and 75 SCAA personnel to the mining area of DMCI’s partners — Fil Asian Strategic Resources Properties Corp. and CRAU Mineral Resources Corp. — in the uplands of Sta.Cruz and in nearby Candelaria, Zambales.
Pamalakaya said Teodoro should instead nullify the Memorandum of Agreement between the mining firm and the 7th Infantry Division, and send the military personnel back to their barracks.
“The main objective of the Army is to protect the transnational clients of Malacañang from wholesale condemnation and community-based protest of the people who will be affected by these sell outs of national patrimony and buffet style offering of the country’s resources to the Palace’s multinational mining clients,” Hicap pointed out.
The militant group said the employment of military and para-military units are not only prevalent in upland mining operations. Pamalakaya said the government is also deploying government troops in offshore mining operations to stop legitimate protests or prevent fishermen from fishing near sites of oil and gas explorations across the country.
The group said government soldiers and policemen are tapped to provide security to oil drilling explorations in
Pamalakaya said the deployment of battalions of Marines in
It added there are 34 service contracts all over the country as far as oil and gas exploration activities are concerned, and that the government has been tasked to provide security to all these offshore mining activities.
“While the Constitution says the AFP should serve as protector of the people, the military is actually the oppressor of the people and defender of transnational interests oppressing the people,” the group said.