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Lawmakers call for deactivation of paramilitary units in Mindanao during 2019 polls

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By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Lawmakers batted for the deactivation of all local government unit-sponsored paramilitary personnel under the Special CAFGU Active Auxilliary Company (SCAAC) within the area of Mindanao effective at the start of the filing of Certificate of Candidacy (COC) until the end of the 2019 midterm polls.

(Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)

(Ali Vicoy / MANILA BULLETIN)

The House Committee on National Defense and Security, chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino Jr. approved House Resolutions 2188 and 2206 filed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The panel agreed to the proposal to deactivate all LGU-sponsored paramilitary personnel under the SCAAC in Zamboanga del Norte and Cotabato City effective at the start of the filing of COC until the end of the 2019 elections.

Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Seth Frederick Jalosjos, who co-authored the two resolutions, cited the need to disband the LGU-funded SCAAs, claiming that some incumbent politicians used them to their advantage during the previous elections.

“Allowing the LGUs with blatant authority to deploy SCAA during the period of elections will always be used and abused by LGUs in terrorizing the electorate as a way of gaining political advantage,” he explained, adding that there is no need to deploy an SCAA force in his province because of the low-security threat assessment in the area.

Deputy Speaker and Maguindanao Rep. Bai Sandra Sema also rallied behind the deactivation of SCAAs in Cotabato City. She said the loyalty of SCAA members are with the LGUs that recruited and funded them.

She said the security threat in Cotabato City “is lesser” following the ongoing peace process, particularly with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

At the panel hearing, Department of National Defense (DND) Assistant Secretary Angelito de Leon explained that there are two kinds of CAFGUs: the SCAA I whose members are recruited, funded and controlled by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the SCAA II, whose members are recruited upon the request of the LGUs concerned and funded by the LGUs but still under the control of the AFP.

AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Isidro Purisima said the activation of the SCAAs was made only after a thorough assessment and validation of the existence of a grave security threat in the locality.

The AFP currently approves requests for the activation of the SCAAs by LGUs.

Purisima assured the lawmakers that the AFP is continuously improving its policies and mechanisms on the activation or deployment of SCAAs to deter abuses perpetrated by some politicians. But he noted that all applications for new SCAAs are currently on hold.

Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, a former police comptroller, said the AFP may consider three options on how to address Jalosjos’ concern: deactivate the SCAA in Zamboanga del Norte, strengthen its control over the SCAAs or request the Commission on Elections to take control of the entire province during the election period.

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