MALAYBALAY CITY – A top ranking official of Bukidnon Police Provincial Office (BPPO) advised big businessmen in the province to be united and organize Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary (SCAA) for their protection against extortion activities.
“Big plantation owners, hog and poultry raisers in Bukidnon should be united. Once they form a strong association they could ask the government to organize SCAA for their business protection against extortion activities,” said Police Senior Superintendent Rey Crestito Gonzalodo, Bukidnon police chief on April 6.
Gonzalodo said instead of giving money to extortionist they could spend it for SCAA unit that could give protection on their business.
“A paramilitary unit is more effective than a security guard. They are armed and well-trained to combat against extortionist particularly the New People’s Army (NPA),” Gonzalodo said.
He said some of hog and poultry farms don’t hire security guards.
On the previous years, suspected members of NPA attacked some hog and poultry farms in Malaybalay City and adjacent towns. Reportedly, the rebels attacked the said businesses due to refusal to give revolutionary tax.
Military and police officials told reporters that NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) allegedly accumulated large amount of money in their extortion activities to finance their operations.
“Most of big plantations, hog and poultry farms are located in the interior villages. Not all the time the military and the police could do a patrol for their protection. So, they better invest for the safety of their business and themselves,” Gonzalodo said.
Gonzalodo further advised businessmen not to be afraid to report to authorities about extortionists. He said businessmen should provide them accurate information for effective action.
In the month of February, members of the NPA claimed responsibility for attacking two big banana firms – the Sumifru and Dole Stanfilco Philippines. Suspected members of NPA were also tagged of attacking some businessmen in Bukidnon.(Mel B. Madera)
MALAYBALAY CITY –A total of 102 rebel returnees availed the livelihood program of the government through the Provincial Livelihood Office of the Provincial Peace and Development Program (PPDP) of Bukidnon.
On March 29 a total of 102 rebel returnees, 31 from Malaybalay City and 71 from Cabanglasan town, availed the livelihood program.
Gov. Alex Calingasan led the awarding ceremonies. Vice Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr., second District Rep. Florencio Flores, Jr, Malaybalay City Mayor Ignacio Zubiri, Cabanglasan Mayor Rogelio Castillanes, Col. Romeo Gapuz – commanding officer of 403rd brigade and others attended the ceremonies.
Capt. Eduardo Meclat Jr., chief of civil military operations of army’s 403rd Brigade said the ceremonial awarding of cash and livelihood projects was conducted in the Municipal Gymnasium of Cabanglasan town.
The program encouraged all members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New Peoples Army (NPA) rebels to return to the fold of law,” Meclat said.
Meclat said each rebel returnee received P15,000 cash gift. The rebel returnees also received corn seeds, vegetables seeds and camote vines.
Datu Mangarin Tilucan Jr., reported leader of the NPA and others from Sitio Kauhangan, Canangaan, Cabanglasan town voluntarily surrendered to the military on August 2009. Tilucan and his group demanded among others a farm to market road, a military detachment in their area and school buildings.
On April 16, 2010 the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army turned over to the community a six-kilometer farm to market road in Canangaan village stretching to Sitio Saluringan, a nearby village of Sitio Kauhangan. The said project is under the Kalayaan sa Barangay Program (KBP) of the 4th ID. Sitio Saluringan is about five kilometers away from Sitio Kauhangan.
The 403rd Brigade selected 20 Rebel Returnee including Tilucan for the 45-day training of Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) but Tilucan quitted because of alleged maltreatment from the training team of the 23rd Infantry Battalion. Few others also quitted.
Meclat quoted Tilucan as saying during the program that the amount is very much helpful for them to start a new and free life, which they never experienced under the communist party. The rebel returnees who are mostly Lumads claimed they were allegedly deceived by the rebels by promising them to own firearms and a monthly allowance,” Meclat added.
Meclat said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcome every rebel who wants to avail of the amnesty program of the government in order for the country to have lasting peace. (Mel B. Madera)
MALAYBALAY CITY – Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri in a press conference on March 26 expressed optimism that the city government will get approval in its plan to organize its own police auxiliary unit.
“I could say a 70 percent possibility of our plan will come to reality. Just recently I met Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jess Robredo and discussed about the issue. The result was encouraging. It seems he favors the project in Bukidnon particularly in Malaybalay,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri said Robredo acknowledged his letter request about the plan.
The police auxiliary nationwide, he said, is reviewed by the Philippine National Police over allegations some police auxiliary were involved in the Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao province where 58 persons were killed, 32 of them were members of the media. The others were members and political allies of now Maguindanao Gov. Toto Mangugudatu.
Despite this, Zubiri said the plan of Malaybalay might be considered because of the insurgency problem.
The NPA rebels were also tagged responsible in attacking a police convoy on March 6 in Mapayag Village this city. Two members of the Scene of Crime Operatives (SOCO) including its civilian volunteer were killed on the spot. That fourth fatality in the ambush, a member of the city police force was killed while undergoing treatment in a hospital. Four other policemen were injured.
Several atrocities were also staged by the suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Malaybalay. The NPA attacked two big banana firms operating in Malaybalay and in Bukidnon in general, the Sumifru and Dole Skyland. The NPA claimed responsibility of the twin incidents. They also claimed responsible in killing a village councilwoman of Dalwangan. The NPA were also tagged in killing former Barangay Mapayag Village chief.
In the previous years the NPA were also tagged in killing Enrique and Cresencio Penaso. The Penaso brothers were both former police officers and were killed separately.
Zubiri said the police auxiliary will be locally funded and has already gained support from the city council. If realized, he added, it would help the government in combating insurgency problems in Malaybalay City.
He said once approved, the city will initially organize a 40-member police auxiliary unit.
In 2009, the city government has already organized Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary (SCAA). They were assigned in a CAFGU detachment under 23rd Infantry Battalion in Upper Pulangi area of the city and in the villages of Can-ayan, Patpat and Dalwangan.
Police regional director Conrado Laza, Zubiri said, cited Bukidnon’s insurgency problem in a conversation with Robredo. He said Bukidnon might get a big portion of the 400 plus quota for Region 10 of the police recruits this year.
The mayor said the city’s 87 policemen are not enough to serve more than 100,000 residents.
The creation of a police auxiliary unit was pushed following the murder of Bukidnon State University instructor Jay Jaspher Santoninio in Brgy. 1 in November 2010 and the robbery involving personnel of the city’s branch of the Development Bank of the Philippines, which killed security guard Pedro Cabalida right in down town Malaybalay City on January 31.
Several critics hit the city’s lack of police visibility, which they said has emboldened perpetrators. (Mel B. Madera)
MALAYBALAY CITY – “If there’s corruption in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) only a few are involved in it and it is not tolerated,” Capt. Eduardo Meclat, Jr., civil military operations chief of the 403rd Brigade said.
“Wag naman sana i-generalize ang buong AFP organization,” (Do not generalize) he added.
Bukidnon News sought the reaction of the brigade’s officials on the inclusion of the AFP as the ‘most corrupt’ government agency in the Philippines.
On its March 2011 Ulat ng Bayan, Pulse Asia said 48.9 percent of Filipinos believe that graft and corruption proliferated in the military.
The survey was conducted at the height of the controversies faced by the AFP arising from the allegations of former military budget officer George Rabusa and former state auditor Heidi Mendoza.
According to the survey, about 60 percent of Filipinos prefer that congressional hearings on alleged corruption in the military must continue.
Among those who were accused of alleged involvement in corruption in the military were former AFP chief Angelo Reyes, Retired Major General Garcia, Retired Lt. General Jacinto Ligot, a former commander of the 403rd brigade and some former AFP chiefs of staff. Reyes took his life because of the controversy.
Meclat said through text on March 31 that the probe involving high ranking military officers happened 10 years ago. He denied it has affected them at all.
“…At first hand we knew it happened 10 years ago. Many changes have happened in the AFP. We are more professional now,” he added.
He argued that the military organization does not tolerate corruption. “It is just in the person (holding the position), “Meclat said.
He said they are transparent in their programs in the brigade.
Next to the AFP as the most corrupt agency were the Philippine National Police (PNP) with 26.6 percent and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) at 18.2 percent.
On the other hand, the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Health and Education were identified as the “least corrupt government agencies”.
Pulse Asia conducted the survey from February 24 to March 6, 2011, using face-to-face interviews in 1,200 adult respondents. (Contributed by Mel B. Madera)
MALAYBALAY CITY (31 March) – A member of Bukidnon’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan is pushing for the Maranaos’ participation in the province’s Indigenous Peoples’ Month celebration scheduled in October.
Board member Rogelio Lago, a “Balik Islam” (Muslim convert) from Baungon town, said the Maranaos should be considered as part of the province since the Bukidnon residents have already accepted them in their communities.
“They should be included also for harmony, and for peace and order in the province,” Lago told this reporter.
Lago chaired the board’s committee on peace and order from 2007 to 2010.
He said the Maranaos can be included in the cultural presentations. They should also be accommodated in the bazaars and other economic activities, he added.
Lago admitted, however, that he expects opposition from some members of the board.
“But I will defend this proposal to promote harmony and to help prevent peace and order problems,” he added.
In February, the community of Muslim traders in Malaybalay and neighboring Valencia City complained that the provincial government excluded them from displaying their products at the capitol grounds because it was reserved for the Lumad and the booths from the local government units.
Ma. Carmen Unabia, then provincial administrator, told reporters they were not excluded but were only relocated to the Plaza Rizal.
Mandangan Ali, vice president of the United Muslim Association, decried the decision as a disregard of the role of the Muslims in the economy and in maintaining peace in the city. He said they have been part of previous Kaamulan celebrations.
Ali denied they were threatening sabotage but admitted they might not be as cooperative anymore.
On Wednesday, the Bukidnon provincial board welcomed the idea of celebrating the indigenous peoples’ month in October, which is declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Last year the provincial board passed an ordinance declaring that the IP month will be observed with the celebration of the annual Kaamulan.
Russell Aquino, head of the Provincial Indigenous Cultural Communities Affairs Division (PICCAD), told the board members the councils of elders of the province’s seven ethnic tribes are holding consultations on what to do during the month-long celebration.
He told MindaNews the provincial board is contemplating on observing the IP month celebration back in October to give way to genuine observance of the province’s indigenous population.
Board member Nemesio Beltran Jr., author of the ordinance institutionalizing the Kaamulan in February to March every year, said the plan will still be subject to more deliberations. The board again invited Aquino, along with provincial tourism officer in charge Kennie Peralta, for next week’s meeting. (Walter I. Balane)