THE Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Monday that mining operations, both legal and illegal, are sources of funds the New People’s Army (NPA).
Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Mindanao-based Fourth Infantry Division, said the recent NPA raid on Agusan del Norte-based Philippine Alstron Mining Company (Alstron) was only a ploy to demand more protection money from the said firm.
He said a lot of small-scale mining operators around Al–stron’s area have been paying protection money to the NPA.
Visaya said Alstron wanted the small-scale miners removed from its mining area but the latter reported to the NPA.
“Actually, they [NPA] also earned a lot from small-scale mining, same in legal mining, big mining companies. It appears that they wanted Alstron to pay more thus, they showed that they were also protecting small-scale mining,” Visaya added.
“The NPA is taking advantage of the situation. It shows that there is no more control from the NPA leadership because money is all that matters here,” he further said.
Visaya said government forces were tracking down the NPA group that raided Alstron, but stressed that the mining firm needs some security adjustments to prevent similar attacks on its compound.
Visaya said actual security on the mining site could only be provided by local police and the firm’s private security guards.
He pointed out that military is limited only outside, adding that at least one company, composed of 120 soldiers, has already been deployed to provide secure the area.
“It is not possible that we will act like security guards. We do not do that, it’s more of area security,” Visaya further said. “In case they wanted to be secured with the help of the AFP, they have to apply for SCAA [Special Civilian Auxilliary Force].”