Conducting Due Diligence on Government-backed Militia

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There are areas of the world where the composition and function of security forces are muddied, requiring extensive due diligence and monitoring.

In the Philippines, Citizen Armed Force Geographical Units (CAFGUs) and Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA) serve as an auxiliary force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and are assigned to protect private companies, particularly natural resources firms. For decades, the Philippine Government has maintained that these units are necessary to advance national security, achieve peace and order, and counter internal security threats. More importantly, the AFP has acknowledged their practical necessity, noting the impossibility for the Philippines military to secure and maintain stability across the country in light of current manpower and budgetary constraints. CAFGUs and SCAAs are under the direct control and supervision of the commanding AFP officer assigned to a specific region. These dynamics are common across many other emerging markets and high-risk areas.

While firms have had mixed experiences with CAFGUs and SCAAs and are confounded by the choice to employ them, some firms have gotten it right. The most successful SCAA operations employ one or two appointed and experienced full-time military commanders from outside the locality. In line with the VPS, many members are nominated and selected from the immediate area and are thus representative of the local community. Mindful that local personnel could be unduly influenced and exploited, private firms encourage, advise, and oversee a government-led due diligence of all local SCAA members. Furthermore, once the hiring and placement decision has been made, operational roles and responsibilities are assigned based on the officer’s association with the local community. One in-country security director explained these dynamics saying, “A local might make an excellent roving security guard, but from a risk management perspective is probably not the best fit for a close protection detail of a foreigner visiting the site.”