Friday, May 20, 2016

Dismantle private armed groups, CPA Abra tells Duterte

[This is a press release by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance.]

Abra-based group Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin a Nagtaudan (KASTAN), the local chapter of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) challenges incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to dismantle the proliferation of private armed groups in the province. Abra is one of the provinces known for the presence of private armed groups (PAGs) allegedly being maintained by some politicians.

“President Duterte should uphold his promise of genuine land reform and national industrialization so that the economic standing of the people will improve. Many people are forced to join private armed groups to feed their family,” said Villamor Pati, chairperson of KASTAN.

Based on interviews from former members of private armed groups, their salary ranges from P3,000-6,000 monthly including food. Accommodation is also provided as they secure their politician-bosses for 24/7. During election period, it is a common knowledge in Abra that politicians use private armed group for their own interests. Reports reaching KASTAN say that in some cases of election related violations such as vote buying were allegedly perpetrated by the private armed groups.

“Joining PAGs has been the alternative livelihood for some Abrenians due to lack of economic opportunities in the province. Even if you own a small parcel of land, the absence of irrigation system in Abra makes it very hard for farmers to cultivate crops. And despite the dangers of being in a private armed group, many people still gamble their safety so that they can feed their family. We call on the incoming President Duterte to listen to our demands,” ended Pati.