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Archive for April 2007

New Pulse Asia senatorial survey: 7 GO, 5 TU, 2 independents

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:07pm (Mla time) 04/30/2007

(UPDATE) MANILA, Philippines — SEVEN senatorial candidates of the Genuine Opposition (GO), five candidates of Team Unity (TU), and two independents have a statistical chance of winning in the May elections, an April 25-27, 2007 Pulse Asia survey released Monday said.

Former senator and GO opposition candidate Loren Legarda has remained on top with 59.6 percent while three others also from the opposition, Sorsogon Representative Francis Escudero (47.2 percent), Senate President Manuel Villar (47.0 percent), and Senator Panfilo Lacson (43.9 percent) were tied for 2nd to 4th places, according to Pulse Asia’s April 3-5 study.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Francis Pangilinan, who is running as an independent, fell to 5th to 10th place, from 2nd to 6th place, with a rating of 38.8 percent from 44.6 percent.

Another independent, former senator Gregorio Honasan, rose to 5th to 12th place from 8th to 15th, with 35.7 percent, just behind
Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano (GO), who ranked 5th to 10th with 38.2 percent.

Also ranked 5th to 12th were GO bet Tarlac Representative Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (35.5 percent), and reelectionist senators Ralph Recto (35.4 percent), Edgardo Angara (35.2 percent), both from the administration’s TEAM Unity (TU).

Rounding the top 12, ranked 7th to 14th were reelectionist Senator Joker Arroyo (33.4 percent) and Bukidnon Representative Juan Miguel Zubiri (32.0 percent), also from TU.

Zubiri entered the winners’ circle for the first time, with his rating up 4.1 percentage points. He was ranked 10th to 18th in the previous survey.

Just outside the top 12, but still with a “statistical chance” of winning are GO bet Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel (30.1 percent) at 11th to
15th place and TU candidate former senator Vicente Sotto III (29.2 percent) at 11th to 17th place.

The Pulse Asia survey differed slightly from the pre-election survey by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of, and the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from April 14 to 17.

In the Inquirer-SWS study, the rankings of Cayetano and Aquino had dropped. Sotto was in 10th place in the said survey and 11th to 17th in the Pulse Asia poll.

In the Pulse Asia survey, Sonia Roco (GO), the widow of the late senator and presidential candidate Raul Roco was ranked 13th to
18th, followed by former presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor
(TU) and former senator John Henry Osmeña (GO), who were both ranked 14th to 20th.

Surigao del Sur Representative Prospero Pichay (TU) was ranked 15th to 21st, followed by Zambales Governor Vicente Magsaysay (TU) and ex-Navy Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes IV, who were both ranked 16th to 21st.

Actor Cesar Montano (TU) ranked 18th to 21st while fellow actor Richard Gomez, an independent candidate, ranked 22nd to 24th.

Pulse Asia polled 1,800 respondents for the study, which had a margin of error +/-2 percent.

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Mon+00:002007-04-30T11:45:26+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 30 Apr 2007 11:45:26 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Military chief orders increased checkpoints

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:24pm (Mla time) 04/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has ordered a nationwide increase in checkpoints in response to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s directive for enhanced cooperation among security forces to thwart rising election-related violence.

But before soldiers can be deployed to election hotspots, the
Commission on Elections (Comelec) needs to deputize the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), pursuant to a memorandum of agreement between the poll body and the Department of National Defense (DND), military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said.

Bacarro said the checkpoints would be for the enforcement of the election gun ban and routine security checks, which do not require a prior request from the Comelec.

“The Chief of Staff has directed the chief of operations to direct all units to increase our checkpoints. Actually, these checkpoints can be done independently or in tandem, jointly with the PNP [Philippine National Police] and the Comelec,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Bacarro said the AFP had long prepared for possible deputation by the Comelec to respond to “serious armed threats.”

“The bottom line is we are ready to provide said assistance once we are deputized by the Commission on Elections based on the recommendation of the Philippine National Police,” he said.

“We are ready and willing to do that, but of course, we will need the deputation coming from the Commission on Elections,” he added.

On Monday morning, San Carlos town Mayor Julian Resuello died at the St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City. He was shot Saturday night in a fiesta. His bodyguard also died in the incident.

The incident came less than a week after two people were killed in a shootout in Jaen town, Nueva Ecija province between the feuding political parties of Nueva Ecija Fourth district Representative Rodolfo Antonino and Jaen Mayor Antonio Esquivel.

Nearly 30 people have been reported killed nationwide as rival candidates, many of them members of long-established political clans, have stepped up efforts to sway voters ahead of the May 14 polls.

Nearly 87,000 candidates are vying for 17,000 national and local positions. All 265 House of Representatives seats and half of the 24 Senate seats also are up for grabs.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-04-30T08:55:39+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 30 Apr 2007 08:55:39 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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AFP metro chief pursues campaign for clean polls

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Vote wisely, public told

By Joel Guinto
Last updated 02:43pm (Mla time) 04/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Claiming that Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had given him the go-signal, the top military official in Metro Manila did not waste time in personally campaigning for clean elections and for people to “vote wisely.”

At a news forum in Quezon City on Monday, Major General Ben Dolorfino, head of the National Capital Region Command (NCRCom), called on the public to “exercise our right of suffrage wisely.”


On Friday, Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, military spokesman, said Dolorfino had been instructed to go easy on his media campaign and instead focus on preparations for possible troop deployment in case they would be deputized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

But Dolorfino said Esperon had given him the go-signal after he assured the military chief over the weekend that the media blitz would not affect the NCRCom’s operations.

“It will not affect their [troops’] operational activities and preparedness. I took this up with the Chief of Staff… It will be just me to include other heads of organizations that are parties to this covenant,” Dolorfino said.

The NCRCom chief was referring to the covenant for clean elections signed by the multi-sector Task Force HOPE (honest, orderly, and peaceful elections).

Dolorfino’s media campaign had been criticized by left-wing militants, who raised concerns that the military would be dragged into partisan politics.

But Dolorfino said he saw nothing wrong, saying he would not endorse specific candidates, and would only tell voters what qualities to look for in candidates.

“I call on our countrymen, the responsibility of promoting good governance starts in each one of us. Let us exercise our right to suffrage wisely,” Dolorfino said during the forum at the Sulo Hotel.

“Let us not be part of efforts to influence the outcome of the election, let’s not get involved in violence,” he added.

Dolorfino said the May mid-term elections, was “very important” and voters should look at a candidate’s “qualifications,” and not allow themselves to be swayed by popularity.

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Mon+00:002007-04-30T08:06:15+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 30 Apr 2007 08:06:15 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Troop presence in metro ‘necessary’– military commander

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By Joel Guinto

Last updated 02:11pm (Mla time) 04/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The presence of soldiers in poor communities in Metro Manila is “very necessary,” the military commander in the capital said Monday, amid a review of the controversial deployment.


“This [deployment] is very necessary in pursuit of our role, our peacetime role, as partner of the people and the local government units in the task of nation-building,” Major General Ben Dolorfino, Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief, told a news forum.

“Many communities need our help. It’s the responsibility of every sector in society to protect the interest of our countrymen, and that includes protecting human rights,” he said.

On Friday, Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, military spokesman, said Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has ordered a review of the deployment to decide whether troops would return after the May 14 elections.

The announcement came a day after Dolorfino announced plans to add 12 more 10-man teams to the existing 26 Civil Military Operations (CMO) teams doing community service in Quezon City, Caloocan City, and Manila.

Dolorfino also said that policemen would join the deployment, which has been criticized on allegations of electioneering and harassment targeted at left-wing groups.

Acknowledging the reassessment of the deployment, Dolorfino said:
“After the elections, there is no certainty that troops will return.
It depends upon the review at GHQ [general headquarters] and the approval of the chief of staff.”

But if he had his way, Dolorfino said he would want soldiers to resume CMO activities after the elections.

“After elections, we can go back and continue what we are doing,” he said.

On Friday, Dolorfino was reprimanded by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Purificacion Quisumbing, who said that the deployment was reminiscent of martial law in the 1970s and soldiers were encroaching on the responsibilities of police and local government units.

Quisumbing reiterated this during the same media forum on Monday. She also criticized the deployment of soldiers late last year, shortly before the campaign period for the mid-term elections started.

“There is a problem with the timing, during the campaign time, the timing is wrong,” she said.

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Mon+00:002007-04-30T07:24:06+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 30 Apr 2007 07:24:06 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Military troops in metro on red alert ahead of Labor Day

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 12:16pm (Mla time) 04/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Military forces in Metro Manila have been placed on red alert, the highest alert level, effective 12 noon Monday in anticipation of the rallies that would be held Tuesday, Labor Day, the military commander in the capital said.

At the same time, 2,000 anti-riot soldiers have been placed on standby to augment their police counterparts if requested, said Major General Ben Dolorfino, Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief.

“We will be on red alert effective today [Monday], which means we will place on standby our CDM [civil disturbance management] units,” Dolorfino told a news forum in Quezon City shortly before the red alert was raised.

“In addition, our quick reaction units will also be placed on standby,” Dolorfino said.

Labor Day has become a rallying point for anti-government forces after the bloody siege of loyalists of deposed president Joseph Estrada on May 1, 2001.

“We do not foresee such thing will happen again,” Dolorfino said, referring to the failed power grab, dubbed “EDSA Tres.”

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Mon+00:002007-04-30T05:24:40+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 30 Apr 2007 05:24:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

Posted in Uncategorized Video: Army defends Metro deployment

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MANILA, Philippines — Col Ricardo Visaya of Civil Military Operations unit defends the deployment of soldiers to poor communities in Metro Manila during a dialogue at the Commission on HUman Rights (CHR). Video taken by reporter Joel Guinto on April 27, 2007.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002007-04-29T14:31:04+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Sun, 29 Apr 2007 14:31:04 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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Esperon to NCR commander: ‘Go easy on poll media blitz’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:10pm (Mla time) 04/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has ordered Metro Manila military chief Major General Ben Dolorfino to go easy on his planned media campaign for clean elections and instead prepare for the possibility of having his men deputized for poll duty.

“With the guidance given from the chief of staff, you can see [this] as an indication not to give priority for the advocacy,” Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, Armed Forces public information officer, said Friday.

“Less time [for the media campaign], but it does not mean no time [for it]. It’s just more on priority, preparing for the election to support the Philippine National Police, aside from, of course, our internal security operations,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Dolorfino had planned to go on a media blitz starting next week in support of a multi-agency campaign for honest, orderly and peaceful elections. While he would not campaign for particular candidates, the general said he would ask voters to choose qualified and God-fearing candidates.

And while the pullout of troops from depressed communities in Metro Manila before the May 14 elections would push through even if no definite date has been set, Bacarro said their redeployment would be subjected to review.

As National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) chief, Dolorfino oversees the Civil Military Operations (CMO) projects of 260 soldiers in the capital. On Thursday Dolorfino said 12 10-man teams, supported by policemen, will join the existing 26 teams when they are redeployed after the elections.

“Based on the directive of the chief of staff, the deployment in Metro Manila after the elections will be subject to his review and approval. It’s not definite. The additional deployment will be subjected to review,” the spokesman said.

“When you say under review, it can go both ways, [the deployment] can either be stopped or scrapped,” he added.

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Fri+00:002007-04-27T09:43:15+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Fri, 27 Apr 2007 09:43:15 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Troops in ‘child warrior’ case restricted; probe continues

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:39pm (Mla time) 04/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — An Army platoon that figured in the death of a nine-year-old girl initially tagged a communist “child warrior” in Compostela Valley province has been restricted to battalion headquarters pending the results of an investigation into the incident, a military spokesman said.

Armed Forces public information officer Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro clarified that the investigation into the case was never suspended.

“The provision of the restriction is they cannot go out of the camp without permission. The purpose is to ensure that they will be available during the conduct of the investigation,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

On March 31, troops engaged suspected New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Kahayag village, New Bataan province, leaving nine-year-old Grecil Gelacio and a soldier dead.

The military initially branded the girl a “child warrior,” claiming she was seen carrying an M16 rifle.

The platoon leader in the incident was identified as Second Lieutenant Francis John Gabawa. The girl’s family has filed murder charges against him.

Interviewed on Wednesday, Gabawa’s commander in the 1001st Infantry Battalion, Brigadier General Carloz Holganza, said the investigation had been suspended since the girl’s father, Gregorio Gelacio, refused to cooperate in the inquiry.

Explaining Holganza’s statement, Bacarro said: “I will just clarify that the suspended part of the investigation was on the father, but all others, the participants [in the incident], the investigation is ongoing.”

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Fri+00:002007-04-27T09:21:25+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Fri, 27 Apr 2007 09:21:25 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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CHR: ‘Metro troop deployment reminds of martial law’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 02:53pm (Mla time) 04/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The deployment of soldiers to depressed Metro Manila communities is reminiscent of martial law and encroaches on the duties of civilian authorities, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) told the military on Friday.

At a dialogue Friday, CHR chair Purificacion Quisumbing told Major General Ben Dolorfino, chief of the Armed Forces’ National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) of the rights body’s “worries” over the presence of troops in the capital.


“There must be a clear policy on what the military’s role is. [This is] somewhat returning to the model during martial law. Are not government services doing this?” Quisumbing told Dolorfino, who was seated beside her at the dialogue.

“Do not relieve the civilian government of its obligation. Otherwise, the military will be the civilian government…This is contrary to the international and domestic norms of human rights,” Quisumbing said.

The CHR earlier issued a statement calling for a pullout of soldiers from the capital, saying the deployment smacked of “militarization,” but never personally made this point to military officials in public.

Quisumbing said humanitarian missions like the ones NCRCom is undertaking would be better done in conflict areas like Sulu province, where troops are battling Al Qaeda-linked militants.

“People are dying in Sulu, why not do it there? [The military should] help in areas where it is absolutely necessary, where there is armed conflict,” she said.

But Dolorfino explained the humanitarian missions in the urban communities were necessary to win people over and effectively deny the communist New People’s Army (NPA) support from the grassroots.

“The concept of war has changed. What is important is the development approach. I believe this is the more harmless approach,” he said.

To which, Quisumbing countered: “The problem with that approach is you are using the democratic process in a different way.”

The CHR chair also criticized the Armed Forces for branding the 26 villages where troops have been deployed “security risks” owing to possible NPA recruitment activities there, without holding dialogues with residents.

“Don’t you think that’s dangerous? You protect some rights, but in so doing, you violate some rights,” she said.

But Quisumbing stopped short of calling for a pullout, saying: “Let’s place importance to the process. If there will be a pullout, do it and let’s follow the process.”

Dolorfino was invited to the CHR headquarters at the University of the Philippines-Diliman campus to shed light on allegations of human rights abuse and electioneering, which has hounded the Metro Manila troop deployment.

In a slide-show presentation before the dressing down from Quisumbing, Dolorfino said: “There is no militarization being undertaken in the deployment areas.”

“We perform activities that are complimentary to police law enforcement functions. We don’t need guns. We just need brooms for that particular activity. We do not intend to go after the enemies of the state. We just hope to make them irrelevant,” he said.

Dolorfino admitted that the initial deployment of armed soldiers in combat uniforms was a mistake and that the troops in the metropolis are now unarmed and in office attire.

He said left-wing militants’ allegations of harassment were “imagined.”

Colonel Ricardo Viasaya, chief of the Army Civil-Military Operations battalion, agreed, though he admitted that troops have been asking residents if left-wing groups have been operating in their area.

“They say they are being harassed. What is true is that we have been asking residents whether or not those organizations are there,” Visaya said.

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Fri+00:002007-04-27T07:36:32+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Fri, 27 Apr 2007 07:36:32 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Filipinos vote based on conscience, social interest

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 11:43pm (Mla time) 04/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines — When casting their votes, majority of Filipinos consider social interest over self interest, and decide guided by their conscience not the political bandwagon, according to a pre-election survey of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Moreover, majority of Filipinos believe that a candidate wins on popular support, not political machinery.

The nationwide study, which polled 1,200 respondents from April 14-17, showed that 79 percent of Filipinos vote for a candidate “if most will benefit,” even if the voter will not.

On the other hand, 21 percent said, “I will vote for a candidate if I will benefit personally from him or her, even if most will not.”

The survey revealed that 87 percent of Filipinos vote based on their conscience while only 13 percent vote based on who they think will win, or based on the political bandwagon.

Asked which between popular support and political machinery propels a candidate to victory, 85 percent chose the former over the latter.

“The April 2007 survey shows that adoption of social interest, rejection of bandwagons, and belief in popularity over machinery, are strongly related to the education of the voter,” the SWS said.

The study showed that 89 percent of college graduates polled said they would vote based on social interest, 90 percent vote guided by their conscience, and 72 percent believed a candidate wins based on popular support.

College graduates comprise 13 percent of the 1,200 respondents.

“The April 2007 survey also shows that independent-minded voting declines somewhat, as one gets are farther away from the national capital,” the SWS said.

Voting based on social interest in Metro Manila was at 82 percent in Luzon, 82 percent; the Visayas 81 percent; and Mindanao, 67 percent.

The study showed that 87 percent of Metro Manila residents use their conscience when voting, compared to 78 percent in Luzon, 76 percent in the Visayas, and 71 percent in Mindanao.

Sixty-four percent of Metro Manila residents believe popular support helps candidates win, compared to 67 percent in Luzon, 64 percent in the Visayas, and 66 percent in Mindanao.

The study had a margin of error of +/-3 percent. The Philippine Daily Inquirer is the parent company of

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Thu+00:002007-04-26T16:02:33+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Thu, 26 Apr 2007 16:02:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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