AFP cries foul over charges of militarization, Andap mining
by Lovely Laudette Gamba
Butuan City (October 19) -- The 4th ID of the Philippine Army has cried foul over alleged militarization and mining in the Andap complex. In a press conference recently at Camp Bancasi, officers denied allegations that the military is harassing residents of the Andap complex to force them to support and allow mining in their communities.
"No harassment in the area, the military is there to do community research and implement the Kalayaan sa Barangay Program (KBP) where each target barangay has a Php5 million allocation," explains LTC Godfrey Gammad of the 36th IB.
The Philippine Army also belies reports that the recent evacuation at Barangay Diatagon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur is due to the threats of the military's presence in the area.
According to the military there was no raging war in the Andap complex contrary to reports of crossfire between the militant and government troops.
"Not a single shot was fired in the Andap complex and the soldiers who were there were not in combat mode but were doing data gathering on community problems," says LTC Erwin Lamzon.
The AFP said that the issue of mining and militarization in the Andap complex is the CPP-NPAs means to broaden their support base. The Philippine army said that the CPP-NPAs accusation has nothing to do with the military's official mission but just a means to frustrate the government's internal security campaign.
LTC Benjamin Pedralvez said that as per unit mission and periodic command guidance and directives their role and task in the area is to dismantle this or that guerilla front.
"The primary reason for the continued presence of the Philippine Army within the vicinity of the Andap complex is the fact that within the complex are guerilla bases of the CPP-NPA. With or without mining applications and explorations, the Philippine Army will be in Andap because the CPP-NPA has been proven to be operating within and from the different strategic locations in the complex," stressed LTC Benjamin Pedralvez.
The Philippine army also belies reports that they are forcing the natives to join the Task Force Gantangan-Bagani to enforce the operation of mining projects in Andap.
"We are not recruiting Bagani warriors but we are enlisting civilians who want to become CAFGUs or members of the Civilian Armed Auxiliary (CAA). This is a voluntary process initiated as per request from local leaders and tribal elders who have decided to help the government in getting rid of communist terrorists in their communities," explains LTC Gammad.
The Philippine army says that the Andap phenomenon is but an extension of the 40-year war between the government and the CPP-NPA. They say that the evacuation in Lianga is no more than plain mobilization to dramatize the issue of military presence in Andap complex.
In the words of LTC Gammad, the presence of the military in the Andap complex is not about ending insurgency but it is all about achieving peace. (PIA-Caraga) [top]