Groups oppose appointment of ex-colonel as IP commission chair
This file photo shows members of national minority groups symbolically sentence American troops, represented by the chicken, to death. Christopher Toledo, File
Groups oppose appointment of ex-colonel as IP commission chair
( - June 5, 2019 - 6:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — The appointment of Allen Capuyan, a retired colonel, as the chairperson of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples was met with opposition from IP and rights organizations.

In separate statements Wednesday, Sandugo Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination and Karapatan said attacks against indigenous peoples would worsen with Capuyan heading the NCIP.

Capuyan was previously the executive director of the National Secretariat of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. In 2004, he was appointed chief for operations of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.  

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the NCIP has never been a supporter of indigenous rights but having the retired colonel as its head “will completely steer the agency off the course at the expense of indigenous communities and in the interest of military operations and economic plunder.”

“The appointment of Capuyan speaks loudly of the NTF to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that in fact targets the indigenous peoples organizations and leaders. These attacks against us with Capuyan at the helm of the NCIP will further intensify as if we are the enemies,” Sandugo said.

Sandugo added that Capuyan played a major role in the “reign of terror” in Mindanao as a former commander of the Task Force Gantangan. The special group, Sandugo said, was formed to set up Lumad paramilitary groups such as Alamara, Magahat-Bagani, among others.

“Now as head of NCIP, he can legitimize further militarization and terrorize IP communities nationwide,” the indigenous peoples group said.

Sandugo also warned that Capuyan’s appointment as NCIP chair could pave way for the approval of the construction of the Chico River Water Pump project in Pinukpok, Kalinga and the Kaliwa Dam project in General Nakar, Quezon and Tanay, Rizal—both strongly opposed by affected residents and IP communities.

Another soldier in gov’t post

Capuyan joins the long list of former military men appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to head civilian agencies. The chief executive earlier admitted his preference to appoint former soldiers, saying they get the job done.

Palabay said this is indicative of Duterte’s use of powers to install an “undemocratic and militarist government.”

“Public office has not been only capitalized for private gain, but also for military operations. This is blurring the lines between civilian and military functions and serves only to normalize an emerging dictatorship masked in a different, indirect form,” she said.

Capuyan had a stint as Duterte’s adviser for indigenous people’s concerns.

Prior to that, he was Manila International Airport Authority assistant manager for security and emergency services. He resigned in 2018 months after alleged Customs fixer Mark Taguba described him as “big brother” and linked him in the alleged corruption at the BOC. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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