Bukidnon biz sector to DILG, police: Help us against violence, extortions

MALAYBALAY CITY – A group of at least 20 business establishments wrote Local Governments Sec. Jessie Robredo asking for help against violence and extortions targeting them, Sr. Supt. Rey Crestito Gonzalodo, Bukidnon police director said Saturday.

He said the group talked to Robredo personally in a conference in Caprice Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City last month.

“They are seeking support and assistance against violence and extortions of alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and local bandits for them to continue producing foods for our countrymen,” Gonzalodo said in a text message to Bukidnon News.

Last week, Gonzalodo urged the business sector not only to hire security guards but also help fund the organization of Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) Active Auxiliary (SCAA) to secure their businesses.

He said that though securing the public is their primary responsibility, businessmen must not rely only on what the police and military can provide.

“The police and the military cannot be in their properties at all times,” he said.

Amid reports of extortion activities in the province, Gonzalodo said business establishments targeted by extortionists must organize among themselves and collectively raise funds to put up SCAA units for their protection against extortion activities.

Gonzalodo said he received a letter earlier this month from a group of at least 20 businessmen who complained about the extortion activities and sought police assistance.
He said the group is composed of plantation owners and hog and poultry raisers.

He said once they have organized, they could ask the military to organize the SCAA.

But he said that although the SCAA, a paramilitary unit, is more effective, affected businessmen should still invest in their security.  He lamented that many of the hog and poultry owners do not hire security guards.

He said suspected members of the New Peoples’ Army attacked hog and poultry farms and plantations in Malaybalay City and in other towns.

Gonzalodo noted an increase in reported extortion in the first quarter of 2011.

He also urged businessmen not to give in to the demands of the extortionists and to report information to them.
“Do not give to these groups pretending to be the NPA. Even to the NPA,” he added.

Instead of giving in to extortion, Gonzalodo added, the businessmen should invest their money fo the allowances, uniform, provision, and equipment of the SCAA.

He said the military will take charge of training, firearms, and ammunition.

Gonzalodo said a mix of SCAA and police auxiliary units would help address the insurgency and criminality problems of the province.

He said Local Governments Secretary Jessie Robredo told him the proposal of the city government of Malaybalay to organize a 40-member police auxiliary unit “might be considered” due to the insurgency problem.

Malaybalay City maintains two units of SCAA while the Bukidnon provincial government initiated SCAA in four of its 20 towns with cost shared between the provincial government and the municipal governments. (Walter I. Balane)