DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Lumad and Moro activists denounced the appointment of another former military officer as the new chief of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
Retired Colonel Allen Capuyan was appointed as the new NCIP chief by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 27. It was only announced by Malacañang on Tuesday, June 4.
Only this year that Capuyan headed the National Secretariat of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF).
The Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination said that back in 2008 Capuyan was also the Commander of Task Force Gantangan, said to be a special group formed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines “specifically to set-up Lumad paramilitary groups” in Mindanao under the counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya, of the Arroyo administration.
The group pointed at paramilitary groups, such as the Alamara and Magahat-Bagani, in the murder of Lumad leaders strongly opposing entry of mining companies and agro-corporations in the ancestral lands.
“The appointment of Capuyan speaks loudly of the NTF to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that in fact targets the indigenous peoples’ organizations and leaders. These attacks against us with Capuyan at the helm of the NCIP will further intensify as if we are the enemies,” Sandugo said in a statement.
The group expresses fear that militarization and terrorizing IP communities will be legitimized after Capuyan’s appointment.
“This is the core of the “Whole of Nation Approach” in the government’s Oplan Kapayaan counter-insurgency program. These are instruments that Capuyan and Duterte’s other military minions will use hand in hand with direct military actions.”
Another IP group, PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao also feared that Capuyan’s appointment would only mean “total sell out” of ancestral lands to foreign investors.
In March last year, Capuyan resigned from the Manila International Airport Authority, after his name was tagged in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of drugs in 2017. A month later, he was appointed as Presidential adviser for indigenous people’s concerns.
On the other hand, human rights group Karapatan said that Capuyan has been primarily involved in intelligence work, serving as Intelligence Service Unit chief in Davao from 1997 to 2000 and later named the chief of operations of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
Karapatan said Malacanang has already appointed 60 former police and military men to key government posts.
“Public office has not been only capitalized for private gain, but also for military operations. This is blurring the lines between civilian and military functions and serves only to normalize an emerging dictatorship masked in a different, indirect form. Appointments like this must not slip public scrutiny as this is indicative of the executive’s use of its powers to blatantly install an undemocratic and militarist government,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay. (davaotoday.com)