MANILA (October 16) – Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) remain a major threat to the development of the mining industry in the country.
Teodoro, who keynoted the 8th Asia Pacific Mining Conference, said the communist rebel movement is “extorting” money from mining firms to finance its armed rebellion.
He admitted receiving reports some mining firms are giving money to the rebel group.
He cautioned them from bending to the “extortion” activities of the CPP-NPA.
The defense chief could not give a figure on the amount channeled into the rebel funds but said it is “a substantial amount.”
Assuring investors and mining companies in attendance during the conference, Teodoro said the government will deal hard against the CPP-NPA.
He said the defense department is already drawing up a coordinated and integrated security plan for the mining sector.
This will include, he added, deployment of government troops where mining activities are ongoing and where the communist rebels are having a presence.
Teodoro also said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is considering an “investment defense plan” to contain security threats facing foreign investors in the country.
He likewise disclosed that the AFP is coordinating with the Philippine National Police to draft security protocols in the light of ongoing security threats.
“We will not bend to any armed rebel groups,” Teodoro told reporters after he delivered his speech.
He said the AFP will organize and supervise the creation of more citizen armed forces geographical units (Cafgus) in areas where the NPAs are very active.
He however insists that these Cafgu forces will serve as a security force in their community and not for a particular mining firm.
The communist rebel movement has vowed to launch armed attacks against mining firms all over the country.
Early this year, the Valentin Palamine Command of the NPA operating in Central Mindanao raided and burned the main base camp of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
SMI is holder of the Tampakan Copper and Gold Project, which with over 2.2 billion tons at a grade of 0.6% copper and 0.2 grams per ton gold and contains 12.8 million tons of copper and 15.2 million ounces of gold using a 0.3% copper cut-off grade, is the biggest in Southeast Asia and Western Pacific region.
Aside from the CPP-NPA, Teodoro said the Abu Sayyaf Group with ties to the Jemaah Islamiya and the splinter groups from Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are also posing security concerns in areas where there are mining activities, particularly in southwestern Mindanao.