AFP chief defends Army commander in controversial video
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the battalion commander who spoke in front of the Lumad had said nothing wrong.
“Mr. Chair, there’s nothing actually wrong with that; they are bringing peace to the area. What’s wrong with that?” Galvez said during the budget hearing of the Department of National Defense at the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
During the House Committee on Appropriations hearing, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao presented a portion of a 13-minute video posted on social media showing an army lieutenant denouncing schools allegedly founded by insurgent groups in the area.
The soldier, confirmed by Galvez as Lt. Col. Xerxes Trinidad, commander of the 36th Infantry Battalion stationed in Surigao del Sur, was blaming alternative educational institutions for teaching natives with radical ideology.
“Mga kapatid nating Lumad, nagsibabaan, ang rason, natatakot sila dahil may presensya ng sundalo […] dahil ‘yan po ang itinuturo na sa kanila, kinalulungkot ko dahil sa pamamagitan ng TRIPS, ng Alcadev, ngayon nandooon pa (The Lumad had gone down because they were afraid of soldiers in the area because that is what TRIPS and Alcadev have been teaching them),” Trinidad said in the video uploaded in July 2018.
He was referring to TRIPS, a tribal educational program, and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), an alternative learning system.
He also said that TRIPS is no longer operational in the municipality of San Miguel and it will stop operating as well in Tandag soon.
“Itanong mo sa mga mamamayan kung may binomba ba ang sundalo dito. Dahil ang gusto ko, at ang hangad lang ng kasundaluhan, ay magbigay ng kapayapaan sa ating kapwa Lumad (Ask the people if the soldiers have bombed anything here. What we want is peace for the Lumad),” he added.
While the video was appluaded by AFP officials present in the hearing, Casilao disagreed with the AFP head, saying that there is something wrong with it.
“There is (something) really wrong with that Mr. Chair. Napakalaking mali po (It’s a huge mistake),” Casilao replied. /ee
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