Saturday, February 02, 2008
Anthony Bayarong, Correspondent http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/feb/02/yehey/prov/20080202pro5.html
STA CRUZ, Zambales: An environmental group on Thursday called the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as “guns for hire” after reports said soldiers from the Army’s Seventh Infantry Division are serving as security guards for a private mining firm here.
In a statement, Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), identified the mining firm as DMCI Mining Corp., whose operations cover 3,700 hectares in Sta. Cruz.
“The AFP’s employment as ‘guns for hire’ for mining firms is a dangerous precedent. This should be immediately probed by Congress and stopped right in its tracks,” Bautista said.
He explained that the Army should not be acting as a mercenary guard for mining firms, which, he said, can afford to hire private security personnel to guard their premises.
Bautista suggested that the military chief of staff, Hermogenes Esperon Jr., be investigated on his supposed statement last week offering to subsidize the security needs of mining firms.
Bautista warned that Esperon’s offer would encourage more units of the military to enter into agreements with other mining firms, both local and foreign.
The presence of military detachments and police checkpoints has been noted by Kalikasan in provinces hosting mining companies, including Lafayette on Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay, Filminera in Masbate, Marcopper in Marinduque, TVI in Zamboanga del Norte, Xstrata in South Cotabato, NMRDC in Mount Diwalwal (Davao City), Rio Tuba in Palawan, Crew Minerals in Mindoro Oriental and Climax Arimco/Oxiana in Nueva Vizcaya.
The environmental network claimed that similar checkpoints are also found here and in Abra, Batangas, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.