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Troop presence in metro ‘necessary’– military commander

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net

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.

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“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.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

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

Posted in Uncategorized

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