Partylist rep: SMI funds CAFGUs
MANILA, Philippines - Bayan Muna Partylist representative Neri Colmenares alleged that mining firm Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) has been giving P1 million a month to government militiamen in and around the Tampakan mine area.
In a statement, Colmenares said he was shocked by the admission of the Mayor of Kiblawan in Davao del Sur, Marivic Diamante, that SMI shelled out P850,000 for another 12 Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members.
The Bayan Muna party list representative said Col Marcos Flores, commanding officer of the 1002nd Brigade, also admitted that 60 CAFGU members are receiving "P2,500 each or P150,000 every month and regular gasoline allowance from SMI-Xstrata."
"Now the cat is out of the bag. This explains why the Army and its CAFGUs are so obsessed with eliminating opposition to mining because they will lose millions if SMI-Xstrata operations stop," Colmenares said.
"Mayor (Marivic) Diamante, who is rabidly supporting SMI mining without realizing the dire implications of her admission, revealed that SMI actually allocates P7,500 each to 12 CAFGUs for a total of P850,000 every month," he added.
SMI contributes to funds
SMI spokesperson John Arnaldo however told Rappler via SMS on Saturday, February 23, that the CAFGUs are funded by the Local Government Units (LGUs) in Kiblawan and Tampakan. However, he added, the company contributes to the funds of the LGUs upon their request.
Arnaldo said this arrangement has been in effect since 2008. But, he said, he is unaware of how much these contributions are worth.
"The CAFGUs are funded by the Community Peace and Security Programs (CPSP) instigated and run by the municipalities of Kiblawan and Tampakan. We contribute to the LGUs as per their request. However, it is their discretion on its allocation," Arnaldo said.
"As early as 2008, the LGUs requested the Government for security assistance. The LGU has asked SMI for help," he added.
Colmenares said Diamante's statement was made in the congressional hearing presided over by Rep Teddy Baguilat, chair of the House Committee on Cultural Communities, in Koronadal City on Thursday, Febuary 21, in connection with the killing of Juvy Cafeon and her two sons last Oct 18, 2012.
Juvy was the wife of fugitive Blaan tribal leader Daguil Cafeon who, along with several supporters, has taken up arms to protest alleged encroachment on their ancestral lands by SMI.
Diamante is the town mayor of Kiblawan in Davao del Sur where SMI has relocated its main base camp following the burning down by the New People's Army of its previous site in village of Tablu in Tampakan, South Cotabato, in January 2008.
The government recently granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to SMI. But the issuance of the ECC is not enough to allow the company to start and operate the mine.
If it pushes through, the US$5.9 billion Tampakan project is expected to contribute at least 1% to gross domestic product per year of operation. It is regarded as the largest foreign investment that the Philippines has received. - with reports from Cai Ordinario/Rappler.com