Fast Facts About the CAFGU and Paramilitary Forces

By Gemma B. Bagayaua, abs-cbnNEWS/NEWSBREAK with research assistance by Purple S. Romero abs-cbnNEWS/NEWSBREAK

Posted at Dec 28 2008 04:29 PM | Updated as of Dec 30 2008 01:47 AM

  • During martial law, paramilitary groups like the Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHDF) became notorious for the human rights abuses they committed. As a result, these groups were ordered dissolved under Article 18, Section 24 of the 1987 Constitution, which bans private armies and paramilitary forces, including specifically the CHDF, not consistent with the citizen armed force established under the Constitution.
  • In July 1987, barely six months after the new Constitution took effect, President Corazon Aquino signed Executive Order (EO) 264 providing for the “Citizen Armed Force” and creating in the process the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU).
  • What was invoked as justification for the formation of the CAFGU was the provision in the 1987 Constitution calling for the formation of a “Citizen Armed Force” (Article 16, Sec. 4), which shall undergo military training and serve as may be provided by law.
  • EO 264 provided that all able-bodied citizens shall become reservists with appropriate ranks. All reservists in a particular locality shall be organized into reserve geographical units subject to call and mobilization as the need arises, individually or as a unit
  • It also provided that Active Auxiliary Units which shall be part of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGU), may be utilized, to be constituted out of volunteers to be screened in consultation with the local executives and civic/business leaders. These Active Auxiliary Units shall mean a degree of activation of military reservists short of full active duty status.
  • In the website of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Reserve Force Development, the military maintains that CAFGU Active Auxiliaries are “reservists on active duty.” (See Reserve Force Development Frequently Asked Questions.)
  • In 1992, Zambales Rep. Antonio Diaz Magsaysay filed House Bill 2542, which sought to repeal EO 264.  Diaz noted that EO 264 revived the dread of the CHDF’s reincarnation under a new name and called the CAFGU the “escape hatch” of the CHDF as well as the re-entry vehicle for their atrocities.
  • In hearings conducted at the House of Representatives in 1995 concerning bills seeking to demobilize paramilitary units including the CAFGU and abolish EO 264, Col. Rolando Floria proposed a five-year demobilization plan beginning 1994. Under the plan, the CAFGU was supposed to be totally demobilized by 1999. The bill never made it through the legislative gridlock.
  • In 1995, yet another bill seeking to demobilize the CAFGU was filed by Senator Orlando Mercado. The bill noted the transfer of internal security functions to the Philippine National Police (PNP). Again, the bill didn’t pass.
  • Today, the CAFGU’s strength is gaining from a low of 32,748 in the late 1990s to the 61,148 in 2007. The military is asking for more funds to recruit more CAFGU.
  • Some 525 CAFGU companies are currently deployed in 71 provinces nationwide, according to data obtained by Newsbreak from the Philippine Army.
  • Aside from the regular CAA companies, CAFGU battalions reported that they are administering 49 Special CAFGU companies with some 3,200 men.