3 September 2009 For Reference: 
REP. LUZ C. ILAGAN 0920-9213221
Abby Valenzuela (Public Information Officer) 0915-7639619 

Abusing power as AFP Commander-in-Chief:
Mrs. Arroyo ordered encroachment on indigenous communities 

“Expect the presence of the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines where ever there are big businesses,” said Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Luz Ilagan during the Task Force Surigao media forum held at the National Council of Churches of the Philippines on September 3.

“The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines herself, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, ordered her soldiers to do whatever they could to protect multi-national businesses, even to the extent of encroaching on civilian communities and disrupting the peaceful lives of the indigenous peoples.”

This is the case of Surigao del Sur where a national solidarity mission was recently held to provide medical and relief assistance to almost 2,000 lumad bakwits (evacuees) displaced by massive militarization. 

Ilagan said it is no wonder that Surigao del Sur is a haven for multi-national mining companies because, just like the rest of Mindanao, the province is rich in mineral resources. Beneath the mountains of Surigao del Sur lie gold, nickel, copper and other valuable minerals.  

“Indigenous communities have been fighting these big companies because their intrusive operations have destroyed the natural environment, thus the homes and livelihood of the locals. But every opposition is met by harassment and human rights violations by the military,” Ilagan said. 

According to Ilagan, Mrs. Arroyo and the AFP violated many laws. One of them is abusing her power and using the military against the civilians. 

“Unless the AFP has suddenly and secretly changed it mandate, its responsibility is to protect the people from external threat. But what is happening now is the military protecting mining companies and harassing the people.”