Bohol farmers seek disbandment of CACC, paramilitary groups

According to HUMABOL, on August 24, 2021, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol approved Resolution 2021-821 authorizing the “local chief executive of the Province of Bohol to represent the Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh) to sign the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Municipal Government Units of Balilihan, Batuan, Bilar, Catigbian and Trinidad for the establishment of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary Company II (CAAC II) to promote peace and order within the provinces’ jurisdiction”. This is related to the PTF-ELCAC’s identification of projects that will supposedly help address peace and order issues in the province.

HUMABOL, KMP’s provincial chapter in Bohol has strongly opposed the formation of the CAFGU company in the province as it will only exacerbate human rights abuses against farmers. Paramilitary units in the country are notoriously known for committing the most brutal forms of human rights violations together with police and military units, and most but have not been held accountable for their heinous crimes.

The Ampatuan massacre in 2009 and the Sagay 9 massacre on October 20, 2018, in Hacienda Nene, Sagay City, Negros Occidental, are just a few of the brutalities attributed to paramilitary groups.

In Bohol, there were reported incidents of abuse by CAAC members. These include drunkenness, indiscriminate firing, and even attempted rape that once prompted certain barangays in the towns of Anda and Batuan to pass resolutions urging for the pull out of CAAC detachments.

HUMABOL has also documented incidents of physical assault and grave threats perpetrated by this unit in the past. There were also news reports of militiamen and soldiers apprehended for selling high-powered firearms in the province.

KMP’s Danilo Ramos said CAA elements will add to regular soldiers committing abuses against community members, citing the case of a drunken 47th IBPA soldier who gunned down 70-year-old Leopoldo Saligan in August last year in Malingin Island, Bien Unido, Bohol.

HUMABOL is also concerned that this additional militia unit might be utilized as goons and security for the upcoming 2022 elections.

With this, the peasant organization calls for the dismantling of paramilitary forces in line with past recommendations of different countries to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). During the 2012 UNHRC session, governments urged the Philippines to “take new additional measures to ensure that the military exercises full control over Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Units and the police over Civilian Volunteer Organizations, holding these units accountable for the Philippines’ obligations under international human rights law.”

HUMABOL also urges the government to instead realign funds of this military force multiplier unit to health and other social services most needed by the people as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. #

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