By Yas Ocampo
President Duterte has given marching orders for the military to recruit more Lumads as CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit) members in the wake of the killing of a Datu and his son last week by members of the New People’s Army.
The President even went as far as ordering a bounty on each killed member of the NPA.
“Isang NPA mapatay ninyo, kayong mga Lumad na maging CAFGU, I’ll pay you… you want money? I’ll give you money,” the President said in a briefing with reporters at the Matina Enclaves late afternoon Saturday.
“I will make it 20,000 per head. Sige. Marami mang pera ang gobyerno. Kung magbayad kayo ng tax ninyo mas lalong marami ako.”
Duterte appeared frustrated at the continuing actions of the rebel group, whom he recently formally identified as terrorists through a presidential proclamation earlier this year.
The President had earlier said he was getting tired of hearing reports of rebels continuing to seek revolutionary taxes from businesses and homes in the countryside.
Along with the killings of police and military officers in the midst of several ceasefires, Duterte has repeatedly been ambiguous about his desire to return the government peace panel in talks with the political arm of the terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Duterte said the Lumads fearing for their lives should just seek the protection of the military.
“In the meantime, they would just live near the camps of the military,” Duterte said.
“Or if they want, if they are well trained enough, give me about three months, I will train them as CAFGU and give them firearms and go out and hunt for those who killed their comrades.”
However, the New People’s Army said the two killed Lumads were “no heroes,” as they admitted killing the two at their homes earlier this month.
Killed were CAFGU leader Banadjao Mampaundag and son Jhonard, who was also a member of the CAFGU, in Sitio Igang, Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte on February 4.
“The two were armed and attempted to open fire against the Red fighters. Seized from them were .45 caliber pistol and a shotgun,” NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez said.
“Mampaundag was no hero or benevolent tribal leader of Talaingod but a longtime CAFGU member and rabid recruiter of the notorious Alamara paramilitary forces under the payroll of the 10th Infantry Division-AFP,” Sanchez said.
“He was responsible for crimes against the people such as land grabbing, theft and extortion, grave abuse, and a host of other human rights atrocities.”
“Despite appeals from his relatives and civilians in the community, he pushed for building a military detachment in the area and organized Alamara forces for counter-revolutionary and anti-people operations. Lumad villagers who refused to enlist in the Alamara and CAFGU training were ordered to leave their homes and farms. Mampaundag was also active in intelligence gathering and psychological warfare campaign in the area.”
The NPA added that Mampaundag was allegedly involved in extortion activities of lots and farms with dubious land titles that were sold to unsuspecting buyers.
Duterte’s current policy statement is striking doubt from human rights organizations in the region who have long sought the removal of paramilitary troops from the lineup of military personnel operating in the countryside.
For years, even during the time of President Duterte as mayor of Davao City, Alamara troopers have been accused of harassing civilians, including schools for Lumads, in areas such as Bukidnon and Davao del Norte.
In several dialogues, then-Mayor Duterte himself asked the military to stay away from the civilian establishments.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s order comes days after he announced he would make available the resources of the executive branch to link up businesses with owners of ancestral domains.
The NPA, for its part, has ordered attacks on military and police recruiters of paramilitary Lumads.
“The NPA Regional Command also ordered all subregional NPA units to carry out standing orders and punish the most rabid Police and Army officers and members, intelligence units, paramilitaries and civilian operatives who mastermind and implement the heinous extra-judicial killings and rights abuses against hapless civilians,” Sanchez said.