Youth group Anakbayan today expressed concern over the appointment of ex-AFP Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu to replace Gina Lopez Environment Secretary, saying this is a bane to rural and indigenous communities where big mining and other transnational companies have enjoyed the protection of the AFP.

“From killing lumads defending their land to militarizing rural communities: the AFP is the number one protector of mining and transnational corporations. The appointment of ex-AFP chief Cimatu will surely make big miners happy as DENR Secretary,” said Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.

Apart from ironically bolstering AFP’s role as investment defense force (IDF) to transnational corporations involved in mining plunder and environmental destruction, the youth group said Cimatu’s appointment points towards the “creeping militarization” of the Duterte cabinet which is now increasingly peopled with many ex-generals and AFP stalwarts.

“We should be very wary of the appointment of military officials coming from one of the most corrupt and human rights violating institution. This is not the change the Filipino people want,” said Crisostomo.

Anakbayan said this creeping “militarization” of the Duterte Cabinet can be seen in the appointments of war mongers involved in rights abuses under previous administrations like General Ricardo Visaya as National Irrigation Administration chief and Hermogenes Esperon Jr. as National Security Adviser.

The youth group warned Duterte that the AFP is the pillar of US neocolonial dependency in the country and will work actively against any move towards a Filipino independent foreign policy. The group adds that AFP is not only a human rights violator but is also one of the most corrupt state institutions as highlighted by Cimatu’s P80 million pabaon scandal.

“We say no to the creeping militarization of the Duterte cabinet. We urge the president to push for the confirmation of Judy Taguiwalo as Social Welfare Secretary and Ka Paeng Mariano as Agrarian Reform Secretary. We call for the immediate implementation of a program of genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization,” said Crisostomo.


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