Investment Defense Force victimizes Lumads–KATRIBU

June 2, 2015

John Calaba.

John Calaba. Image from Karapatan

Indigenous peoples’ organization KATRIBU Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas lambasted the Aquino government’s maintenance of the Investment Defense Force (IDF) following the disappearance of a Manobo activist in Sultan Kudarat last month.

John Calaba, 28, public information officer of Manobo organization Kisasabanay Dulangan Manobo (Kiduma), went missing in April 30 in Sabanal village, Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat. He was last seen in the company of the security personnel of David M. Consunji, Inc (DCMI) who has mining operations in the area. He is feared dead by human rights organizations and members of his community.

On the day of his disappearance, Calaba was at his house in Salangsang village, in Lebak town, when three DMCI company guards arrived. The guards, Christopher dela Cruz, Loloy Aquino and Jayjay Cruz, invited Calaba to their outpost in Sabanal village, Kalamansig, to eat roasted chicken with them. Timoteo Asong, a worker at the water reservoir owned by the Consunji Company, saw Calaba at the outpost eating. After 20 minutes, Asong heard gunshots from the outpost, and the sporadic firing lasted until around 10 a.m. He remains missing.

“We hold the DCMI guards and the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) whom Calaba was last seen with, for his disappearance. We demand his immediate surfacing,” Piya Macliing Malayao, KATRIBU spokesperson said.

Malayao also scored the use of the IDF against the Lumad people and other civilians.

“The creation and continuance of the Investment Defense Force is a direct attack against the people and an affront to human rights in general. Imagine goons, armed with the best weapons mining corporations and plantation owners could buy, trained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and legitimized by the President, are going after indigenous people and ordinary citizens who are critical of projects and businesses. It is an abomination to democracy that corporations have an army under their thumb,” Malayao said.

“Paramilitary groups, the IDF, and other mercenaries on payroll by big businesses are terrorizing Lumad villages all over Mindanao. In his policy for retaining paramilitary groups, BS Aquino is responsible for perpetuating the reigning culture of impunity,” Malayao added.

The IDF was created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the wake of attacks by the New People’s Army on mining sites in Mindanao in 2008. Malayao said that the IDF is carried on into the Aquino administration, and even expanded the policy with the formation and support of the AFP to paramilitary groups.

DCMI guards are said to have been trained by the 38th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Malayao, however, retorts that the IDF targets civilians, especially leaders and members of grassroots organizations leading the defense for rights to land and livelihood. Malayao said that at least 58 indigenous peoples have been victims of extrajudicial killings from 2010 to June 2015 in areas affected by development projects and counterinsurgency combat operations.

KATRIBU is pushing for the revocation of Executive Order 546, that legitimizes the creation of collaborative defense force between the government and private security forces.#

References: Piya Macliing Malayao 0917-3631576, Spokesperson; Lea Fullon 0998-2972500