SMI giving P1M monthly funding for CAFGUs, Bayan Muna rep saysBy Edwin Espejo Feb 23, 2013 11:36AM UTC
Rep. Neri Colmenares was shocked when an Army colonel admitted to receiving P150,000 a month from a mining company in allowances for government militiamen deployed in and around the mining site while a town mayor also disclosed that Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) is likewise shelling out P850,000 for another 12 Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members.
“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 in a press statement.
The Bayan Muna party list representative said Col. Marcos Flores, commanding officer of the 1002nd Brigade, admitted that 60 CAFGU members are receiving “P2,500 each or P150,000 every month and regular gasoline allowance from a SMI-Xstrata.
“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,” Colmenares further revealed.
Diamante is the town mayor of Kiblawan in Davao del Sur where SMI has relocated its main base camp following the burning down of its previous site in main site in village of Tablu in Tampakan, South Cotabato, by the New People’s Army in January 2008.
Colmenares said the information surfaced during the congressional hearing presided by Rep. Teddy Baguilat, chair of the House Committee on Cultural Communities, in Koronadal City on Thursday (Febuarry 21) in connection with the killing of Juvy Capion and her two sons last October 18, 2012.
Juvy was wife of fugitive Blaan tribal leader Daguil Capion who, along with several supporters, has taken up arms to protest alleged encroachment of their ancestral lands by SMI.
In the face of the allegations, Colmenares said “SMI-Xstrata… is essentially a conspirator in the killing of Capion.”
During the congressional hearing, Lt. Col. Shalimar Imperial also admitted that a certain Dan Balandra is under the employ of SMI.
Balandra is resigned Army officer who reportedly graduated from the Philippine Military Academy. He was said to have met Daguil Capion for three consecutive days prior to the killing of Juvy and her sons during an early morning military raid in their house in Kimlawis, Kiblawan.
All 13 government soldiers belonging to the 27th Infantry Battalion who were involved in the killings are now facing court martial proceedings.
The Xstrata-controlled SMI owns the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project which reportedly contains 375,000 metric tons of copper and 360,000 ounces of gold ore deposits.
SMI has announced it will pour in US$5.9 billion in investment to mine the deposits.
Colmenares said they will look into the possibility of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in the face of the said revelation.
“The first issue is whether SMI funding of the Army is legal or constitutes a form of bribery on public officials,” the congressman said.
He likewise warned that “local LGUs should not receive any monetary consideration from SMI considering that it has a hand in the granting of the permit or approval of SMI’s mining operations.”
In a text message, SMI spokesman John Arnaldo however said the “CAFGUs are funded through the community peace and security program instigated and run by the municipality of Tampakan and Kiblawan.”
SMI has repeatedly said that company policies strictly prohibit any of its officials and employees from committing bribery.