By SHERWIN DE VERA
VIGAN CITY — The SANDUGO and Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) slammed the appointment of a former military official as the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) chairperson.
Malacañang released the appointment papers of retired Colonel Allen Capuyan as NCIP commissioner for Davao and Caraga regions. The president also designated him to head the commission for the next three years, replacing Leonor Quintayo. He will concurrently serve as the executive director of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC).
“Capuyan played a major role in the reign of terror in Mindanao. Now as head of the NCIP, he can legitimize further militarization and terrorize IP communities nationwide,” Sandugo said in a statement.
During the presidency of Gloria Arroyo, Capuyan headed Task Force Gantangan of the Armed Forceds of the Philippines tasked to set-up Lumad paramilitary groups in Mindanao as part of Oplan Bantay Laya. These groups are responsible for the murder of many Lumad leaders opposed to the entry of mining companies and agro-corporations in the ancestral lands.
With the above, CPA warns that indigenous peoples should brace for intensified military deployment in indigenous peoples’ lands with the appointment of Capuyan.
“With a notorious human rights violator as NCIP chair, there is no doubt that he will be using militarization to give way for destructive projects in IP lands. The state of militarization and accompanying human rights violations in the Cordillera will worsen,” said CPA secretary general Sarah Dekdeken.
She said that military deployment usually comes with government and corporate projects especially in areas where there are oppositions.
“It is to silence any opposition and results in human rights violations such as harassment, intimidation, political vilification, and even extrajudicial killings,” the CPA leader added.
With another military in the bureaucracy, Dekdeken called on the indigenous peoples community to “stand united and strong, to be more vigilant” in opposing more free, prior and informed consent process (FPIC) manipulation and undermining of indigenous people’ rights.
The newly appointed NCIP chair made it clear in his pronouncement that he will utilize his office in the government’s campaign against the revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
He said that the full implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) depends on freeing indigenous peoples from the influence of the communist rebels.
Meanwhile, Robie Halip of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy (AIPNEE) expressed disagreement to Capuyan’s statement “that the full implementation of IPRA can only be realized if indigenous peoples are liberated from insurgency and the ideology of the left.”
“That is a very simplistic point of view as the core issue of indigenous peoples is the non-recognition and respect of their collective rights to their lands and resources even with the existence of IPRA,” she said.
According to her, land grabbing and expropriation of indigenous peoples’ lands to extractive industries without their FPIC are just some of the issues they face.
Halip added that aside from the miniscule budget allotted to NCIP for the implementation of their mandate, indigenous peoples view most of them as company facilitators.
Customs broker Mark Taguba implicated Capuyan in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling incident that occurred during his stint as Manila International Airport Authority assistant general manager for security and emergency services. A Newbreak report in 2005 also cited him a the primary suspect behind wiretapping operations that led to the “Hello Garci” controversy during the Arroyo administration. # nordis.net