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Army defends increase in CAFGU budget amid lumad killings

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Army yesterday defended the increase in the budget of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), which is now under scrutiny due to the recent killing of lumads or indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said the increase in the outlay of the paramilitary units to P3.4 billion in 2016 from P2 billion this year is due to the increase in the daily subsistence allowance of the military.

He clarified that the increase was not meant to bankroll new CAFGU recruitment, as alleged by some critics of the military.  

“The subsistence allowance of military personnel was increased from P90 to P150 per day. The increase took effect in mid-2014 but was fully implemented this year,” Hao said in a statement.

“Just like the regular soldiers, CAFGU members also now receive P150 subsistence allowance daily or a total of P4,500 or P4,650 per month. This is the main reason for the increase of the CAFGU budget in 2016,” he added.

Earlier, Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon called for the realignment of the P3.4-billion CAFGU budget to the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) of 59 state universities and colleges (SUCs).

“With the President expressly providing that ‘no new CAFGUs shall be recruited for training and the costs attendant to the training of existing CAFGUs shall be gradually scaled down,”’ Ridon said in a previous statement.

“There can be no justification for the CAFGU budget’s increase to P3.4 billion in 2016. Instead, the House committee on appropriations should re-channel the aforementioned portion of said funds to the MOOE of SUCs,” he added.

The CAFGU made headlines recently after militant groups accused paramilitary units of killing three lumad leaders including a school official in Surigao del Sur. The military has denied any involvement in the killing and attributed the incident to tribal conflict.

Hao said the Army is putting on hold the recruitment of CAFGU members this year in compliance with the provisions of the national budget.     

 

ACIRC BENJAMIN HAO CAFGU CITIZEN ARMED FORCE GEOGRAPHICAL UNIT INCREASE KABATAAN MINDANAO NBSP RIDON TERRY RIDON WITH THE PRESIDENT
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