The 27th IB’s Continuing Military Operation Ensures the Unimpeded Landgrab of Agri-Corporations and Large-Scale Mining in Allah Valley

Ka Efren
NDFP-FarSouth Mindanao Region
August 25, 2012

For almost eight months now, or since the rapid expansion of plantations and large-scale mining in Allah Valley, South Cotabato, the 27th IB-AFP has conducted a relentless military campaign designed to pave the way for the encroachment of giant multinational agribusiness and large-scale mining. As a faithful mercenary, the 27th IB has made certain nobody stands in the way for the land acquisition of these imperialist companies.

Dubbed as “peace and development teams,” the 27th IB and its paramilitary forces have easily occupied the most fertile plains of Surallah, Lake Sebu, Tboli, Bagumbayan and Banga, and the remote areas of Daguma Range so it will be easy for the multinational companies and large-scale mining to obtain land. The Dole-Stanfilco and Sumifru acquire plantation areas usually through rent or growership. Those who refuse to give up their lands are marked as mass activists or rebels and are continually harassed, intimidated and threatened.  A total of 12,000 hectares for Dole-Stanfilco alone have already been taken and about 10,000 hectares for Sumifru. Dole-Stanfilco is the biggest multinational company in the world and Sumifru is owned by Sumitomo which also operates a large-scale, ecologically destructive nickel mine in Surigao.

In a climate of fear and coercion, most of the farmers, especially the small farmers have no other choice but to give way (this is what they call “peace”)–so the multinationals can rule (this is what they call “development”). The farmers are lured to give up their lands for some cash which almost always happens to be spent before all the debts are paid.  Thus, the farmers become part of the landless poor who must sell their labor power, for very low wages, in order to live.

The 27th IB’s presence in the coal-rich communities of Daguma Range imposes defense of foreign and large-scale mining companies insistent on continuing their operations despite strong resistance from the lumad and peasant residents.  These are the San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC), the D. M. Consunji - Construction Equipment Resources, Incorporated (DMC-CERI), and the Canadian owned gold and copper mine of Tribal Mining Corporation.

The SMEC and DMC-CERI have coal mining operations covering thousands of hectares of T’boli ancestral lands and settler communities in the border areas of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat ang Sarangani Province. SMEC is the energy division of San Miguel Corporation owned by Eduardo Cojuangco, PNoy’s uncle. It holds a mining contract comprising 17,000 hectares, which encompasses lumad communities and forestal areas of the Tasaday Reservation.

The DMC-CERI is a sister-company of the Semirara Mining Corporation, the largest coal mining firm in the country notorious for grave environmental devastation.  It owns about 3,000 hectares within the 10,900-hectare IFMA concession of the Silvicultural Industries Incorporated (SII) also owned by D. M. Consunji.  The SII, whose IFMA contract is set to expire in December 2016, operates a vast coffee, fruit tree and pine tree plantations within its concession area.  With the current expansion of the plantation and the thriving coal operation, the Consunjis, one of the most powerful and richest families in the country since the Marcos dictatorship, enjoy government backing and is unrestrained in getting full control of this T’boli-Manobo ancestral land beyond 2016.

These two coal mining projects of SMEC in Ned, Lake Sebu and DMC-CERI in Santo Nino, Bagumbayan, are watershed reserves and the most important source of Allah Valley’s water system and agricultural irrigation.  Aside from the coal mining’s potently destructive effects on health, environment, and food security, their large-scale operation pose the threat of dislocation to thousands of lumad and farmer families, and soon would bring the Tasaday Reservation environs to extinction.

By employing the 27th IB, the Cojuangco-Consunji clique continues to suppress the lumad and farmers’ broad and firm resistance.  Consunji’s company-sized private army supplements the 27th IB’s fascist undertakings in harassing and intimidating civilians known to be strong opponents of its plantation and mining projects.  Anti-mining groups and farmers’ associations are branded as NPA elements or supporters  and are relentlessly hounded by patrolling guards and soldiers in their communities; their leaders  are repetitively summoned and grilled. The “peace and development team” forcibly put up a military detachment adjacent the civilian neighborhood in Tasaday Blit.  They also imposed restrictive policies in purchasing food supplies and holding of meetings and assemblies, and regulated hunting, a conventional economic activity of the locals. These are clear acts of atrocities against the people’s rights and civil liberties.

Furthermore, the recruitment of Civilian Auxiliary Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGUs) has been extensively used to divide the people’s unity against large-scale mining and agribusiness and consequently augment security forces for the giant multinationals and large-scale mining.

The 27th IB is a shameless mercenary who facilitates the dispossession of Filipino peasants and drive them deeper into poverty and landlessness in favor of the imperialist multinational companies and large-scale mining.  Recently, the 27th IB forged an elite fascist group to perform specialized jobs in protecting large-scale mining in the guise of pursuing the revolutionary movement.  Named “Task Force 73”, the unit’s mission is to launch intensive attacks against anti-mining advocates and subsequently smash the people’s resistance.  Capt. Wayagwag, a former intelligence officer and a psy-war specialist, was named its commanding officer, with Lake Sebu and T’boli, the areas where large-scale mining companies are, as their main areas of responsibility.  The task force consists of 27th IB elements from Davao del Sur where they have been securing the mining company Xtrata-SMI.  How much the 27th IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Alexis Noel Bravo, Capt. Wayagwag, and the 10th ID officials are paid for this we can only guess.? It is public knowledge that the more vicious their attack, the higher they are paid.

The New People’s Army for its part, firmly affirms its unceasing fight against multinational agribusiness and large-scale mining companies who, for so long, have been extracting our nation’s resources,  siphoning huge profits and destroying the environment.  Moreover, the NPA is resolutely committed to frustrate and punish the mercenaries, especially the high-ranking officials of the 27th IB and the 10th ID who continue to protect these companies and enrich themselves at the expense of the people.

For the NDF-FSMR,