THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has offered the agriculture and mining industries, as well as other big businesses on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao to help stop the various forms of harassment being perpetrated by communist rebels.
In a closed-door meeting between the PNP’s Directorate for Integrated Police Operations (DIPO) in Western and Eastern Mindanao and the industries’ private security forces, authorities introduced a scheme called “Adopt Your Police Station Program,” which will deploy adequate police forces to areas being threatened by the rebels.
Under the scheme, business groups may donate to the PNP a piece of land in areas regularly threatened by members of the New People’s Army (NPA), so that the police could build a camp there to help secure the businesses under threat.
The policemen who have been trained for combat operations would be deployed from their Risk Public Safety Battalion (RDBP).
Police Senior Supt. Daniel Macatlang, Jr., of the DIPO-Western Mindanao, said the PNP has a budget for the scheme, and that the deployment of policemen for such would depend on the gravity of threat from the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
While business firms have private security guards, Macatlang pointed out, they are not combat trained, thus cannot fight the NPA rebels. The police, on the other hand, are well trained to deal with the rebels, and could even ask the assistance of the military through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“Some industries will not agree to engage the military because of the military’s reputation of being human-rights violators,” a security manager from a multinational company said. “Also, if we are going to have the military, it will invite terrorists. Then the plantations will become the battlegrounds.”
Macatlang explained that the property to be donated should be outside of the businesses’ grounds but near the vicinity of their area of operations, so that the communities nearby would also be protected.
He also emphasized that the policemen fighting insurgencies are not only engaged in combat operations, but also actually doing law-enforcement operations, meaning that they work closely with the army and would normally stay behind after the fight with the rebels.
“The key in this scheme is the cooperation of the industries with the PNP and AFP,” Macatlang stressed. “Usually, we are called when the atrocities are already happening or have happened already. If you will provide us advance information, even before the rebels attack, we can help prevent it.”
He said the rebels would normally send warnings or demand for revolutionary taxes, but the industries will either just keep quiet or give in to their demands. If the police or military are informed ahead of time, then their harassment will be anticipated and could even be prevented.
He said the program will require a minimum of 500 square meters of land and the PNP will be responsible for building the camp’s facilities.
“This is a very good alternative, since we don’t have to hire additional personnel or buy more firearms to organize an organic security force,” a security manager, who requested not to be named for security reasons, said. “Adopting a police station looks more viable and sustainable.”
Another security manager said the scheme is a win-win solution since the companies will have more time focusing on production rather than getting worried about their security, and it will be cheaper for them.
There is a company, for instance, that spends P13 million a year for a force of 100 Special Cafgu Active Auxiliary (SCAA) to also guard their operations against Muslim rebels. Cafgu, an irregular force of the AFP, stands for Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit.
The insurgency problem affects almost all industries in Mindanao, having been a major problem for over five decades. The insurgents are engaged in arson, extortion, harassment, black propaganda, infiltration of labor unions and meddling in agribusiness venture agreements, among other things.
There are 52 communist fronts nationwide, 24 or 46 percent of which are in Eastern Mindanao, while the remaining 28 fronts (54 percent) are scattered all over the country. JAMES GALVEZ