AFP denies forced recruitment, extrajudicial killings of Lumads
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - November 3, 2015 - 11:15pm

MANILA, Philippines - The military admitted Tuesday that it has Lumads or indigenous people among its ranks but clarified that they were not forced to join the government forces.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Restituto Padilla said some of the Lumads joined paramilitary units to defend themselves from communist rebels while others were persuaded by their families.

“We do not deny that there are indigenous people who are part of the CAA (CAFGU Active Auxiliary). They applied for job. They are not forced. If they are qualified, they are taken in,” Padilla said in an interview.

Some military officers also belong to indigenous groups. Army spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao said at least five percent of soldiers recruited in Eastern Mindanao are lumads.

“Unlike the force recruitment of the NPA (New People’s Army), the recruitment of the Philippine Army is based on the clamor of the local Lumad leaders. The Philippine Army support the premise of who else can serve and secure them better than the Lumads themselves,” Hao said.

There are 200 indigenous people in the 85,000-strong Army. Of this, 78 are officers while 122 are enlisted personnel.

“It is also important to note here that there are also some Lumads who voluntarily joined the CAFGU service to secure their respective communities,” Hao said.  

Earlier, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said both the military and the NPA are recruiting indigenous people as combatants and are involved in extrajudicial killings.

The CHR also cited the need to ensure that Lumads are not used to pursue partisan agenda and called on all parties to respect their right to self-determination.

Military officials denied that soldiers are behind the killing of Lumads.

“We have already answered openly all the accusations against us in all formal investigations conducted by recognized legal bodies of the government and even by some key stakeholders in good governance,” Hao said.

“We have provided the CHR all legal documents needed to express our strict adherence on human rights, international humanitarian law, and the rule of law,” he added.

Padilla said they are open to any investigation about the killing and exploitation of Lumads in Mindanao.

“If there are members of the armed forces or the police who are guilty of that then they should be brought to the bar of law,” he added. – With Levi Mora

ACIRC ACTIVE AUXILIARY ARMED FORCES BENJAMIN HAO EASTERN MINDANAO HUMAN RIGHTS LUMADS NEW PEOPLE PADILLA PHILIPPINE ARMY RESTITUTO PADILLA
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