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Archive for May 3rd, 2007

PHOTOS: Journalists light candles for slain colleagues

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MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) lit candles and read poems in Quezon City in memory of slain colleagues on Thursday evening.
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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-03T16:09:39+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 03 May 2007 16:09:39 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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‘Mother Lily’ backs Aquino’s senatorial bid

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 09:53pm (Mla time) 05/03/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Movie producer Lily Monteverde has endorsed the candidacy of Tarlac Representative Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for senator.

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“Noynoy is definitely getting my vote… I support Noynoy because of the man he is, honest, humble, hardworking, brilliant, and selfless,” Regal Films matriarch Monteverde said.

Monteverde, known as “Mother Lily” in show business, threw a dinner party for Aquino at a hotel in Quezon City Thursday evening. The dining hall was decorated in yellow, Aquino’s campaign color.

Former president Corazon Aquino was on hand to show support for her son.

The Tarlac solon and the former president were thankful for Monteverde’s support.

“I’m very grateful for this expression of support,” Representative Aquino said.

“I want to thank Mother Lily. This would mean a lot to Noynoy, Kris, and my other daughters,” Mrs Aquino said.

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Kris, who gave birth to second son James Jr. two weeks ago, arrived with her husband, basketball player James Yap.

Unlike her mother, husband, and brother, Kris was not in yellow. She came in a loose-fitting floral print dress and black pants.

Kris’ first son by actor Philip Salvador was also present.

Members of the so-called “Hyatt 10” were also on hand to express support for Representative Aquino: Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, Imelda Nicolas, and Florencio “Butch” Abad.

The “Hyatt 10” are former members of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet, who, like Mrs Aquino, called for the President’s resignation amid allegations of vote rigging in mid 2005.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-03T15:06:23+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 03 May 2007 15:06:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Esperon on cheating charges: ‘My conscience is clear’

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 03:59pm (Mla time) 05/03/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Saying his conscience was “clear,” Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he saw no need to “redeem” himself in the May 14 mid-term elections amid lingering allegations linking him to vote-rigging allegations three years ago.

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Esperon issued the statement after he drew flak over the possible deployment of soldiers for election duties this year. Senator Rodolfo Biazon, a former military chief, said the May elections would serve as a chance for Esperon to redeem himself from the 2004 poll fraud scandal.

“As far as I’m concerned, I have been cleared and my conscience is clear. If I was mentioned in a tape, then, what really have they proven? And I’m saying I did not do anything there,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“So redeem? What I can say is we will do our best to be a constructive part of this electoral exercise,” he added.

Esperon was linked to the 2004 election fraud scandal after he and three other officers were mentioned in purported wiretapped conversations of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, where they allegedly discussed plans to rig the balloting.

A military investigation, led by retired Vice Admiral Mateo Mayuga, a former Navy chief, cleared Esperon, and the three other officers who are now retired, but its report was never disclosed fully to the public.

The three others mentioned in the tapes were former Army Task Force Comet chief Major General Gabriel Habacon, former Southern Command chief Lieutenant General Roy Kyamko, and former First Marine Brigade chief Brigadier General Francisco Gudani. Like Esperon, they were assigned in Mindanao during the 2004 election period.

In the tapes, Garcillano supposedly told Arroyo that Kyamko and Esperon had worked on the relief of Gudani, who allegedly resisted cheating operations at his base in Marawi City.

Gudani exposed the purported cheating operations during an appearance at a Senate investigation in September 2005. For allegedly breaking a verbal order not testify, he and his subordinate, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Balutan, were submitted to court martial proceedings.

Habacon was mentioned in the tapes as someone who did not know how to count.

The election fraud scandal prompted the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to forge a memorandum of agreement in October 2006 to limit the role of soldiers during elections to responding to “serious armed threats.”

But earlier this week, after successive incidents of election
violence, Arroyo ordered the military to help police peacekeeping efforts in election hot spots.

Former senate president Jovito Salonga raised concerns that the involvement of soldiers in elections brought to mind martial law, saying Arroyo reminded him of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, and Esperon, of his martial law counterpart, the late General Fabian Ver.

“I respect him, I even admire him but this time I do not see his logic,” Esperon said Thursday, when asked about Salonga’s statement.

Esperon said the country could not possibly be “militarized” when soldiers are only in 26 villages in Metro Manila, and 2,000 others across the country, and their presence was mainly for humanitarian missions.

He also dared Salonga to ask soldiers if they trusted their chief of staff, to disprove his statement that he was causing restiveness within the Armed Forces.

“You ask the officers and men of the Armed Forces if I’m the cause of gripes. I don’t think, I will not be vouching for my own self, you ask the soldiers and the officers,” Esperon said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

(File photo taken in Camp Tecson, San Miguel, Bulacan on March 15)

Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-03T08:26:01+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 03 May 2007 08:26:01 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Military denies bugging Aquino phone

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 02:23pm (Mla time) 05/03/2007

MANILA, Philippines — While admitting to having wiretapping capabilities, the military said Thursday it was not behind the bugging of the phone at former president Corazon Aquino’s Quezon City residence.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said there was “no reason” to wiretap the former president, who is widely respected as the symbol of the bloodless revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

“I am definitely saying we are not doing any wiretapping against the former president,” Bacarro told reporters.

Asked if the military wiretaps for surveillance purposes, Bacarro said: “Well, if it is covered by a court order, then we do that.”

But the spokesman was tightlipped on the extent of the military’s wiretapping capability.

While the military would not investigate the alleged wiretapping, Bacarro said they were also interested to know who was behind the bugging of Aquino’s phone.

“Well, that is a big question. That is a question we want answered,” he said.

Bacarro also acknowledged that certain groups would be quick to point an accusing finger at the military because soldiers are the “easiest excuse.”

On Thursday, Aquino said maintenance workers from the Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Co. (PLDT) found a tape recorder with a power supply inside a phone box on the corner of West Triangle and West 6th Street, 100 meters from her Times Street home in Quezon City.

The PLDT crew said the device tapped into her personal phone line, according to Aquino.

In 2005, tapes of alleged wiretapped phone conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano were leaked. The military allegedly did the wiretapping but officials denied this.

In the tapes, Arroyo purportedly talked to Garcillano about plans to rig the 2004 election results in her favor.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-03T07:10:28+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 03 May 2007 07:10:28 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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CHR to police, military: Find Burgos’ son ‘dead or alive’

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5-day deadline set

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 12:37pm (Mla time) 05/03/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has given security forces five days from Thursday to find “dead or alive” the son of the late newspaper publisher Jose Burgos Jr., whom left-wing militants claimed was under military custody.

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The order came as CHR chairperson Purificacion Quisumbing said the military and the police had a problem in “credibility,” having lied in the past about whether or not missing activists was under their custody.

“Give us the information. Give us what happened to Burgos five days from today [Thursday],” CHR commissioner Dominador Calamba told police and military officials who attended a public hearing on the disappearance of Jonas Burgos.

“We are not accusing anyone here,” Calamba said. “Whether Jonas is dead or alive, please, look for him.”

Quisumbing added that security forces should also look for Burgos’ two companions, who allegedly disappeared with him on April 28.

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Quisumbing cited the case of five supporters of deposed president Joseph Estrada, whom the military initially denied they had arrested in late May 2006, only to admit later that the five were under its custody.

“You remember the case of the so-called Erap 5? The uniformed men were the ones involved, and yet they did not show any ID, they took the men, and they kept the men,” Quisumbing said.

“If I remember correctly, when the Armed Forces spokesperson was asked, he said they were not with them, and yet later on, they were produced,” she said.

“What I mean is the credibility of our uniformed men, the police and the military has to be brought back,” she added.

Seeing parallels in the Burgos disappearance and the Estrada 5, Quisumbing said: “According to the witnesses, they heard [Burgos abductors] say that they were policemen. Of course, they were not in uniform and neither did they show any ID.”

Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) chief Major General Delfin Bangit and Director Geary Barias, chief of the police Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) were no-shows, and instead, sent representatives.

The chiefs of the military and police human rights offices, Lieutenant Colonel Benedicto Jose, and Chief Superintendent German Doria were present, along with ISAFP legal counsel Major Ser-me Ayuyao and Superintendent Edgardo Wycoco, acting assistant regional director for Metro Manila of the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Jonas Burgos, who was helping the Bulacan chapter of the left-wing Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), was allegedly abducted by unidentified men while he was eating at the Ever Gotesco shopping mall in Quezon City on April 28.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-03T07:07:07+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 03 May 2007 07:07:07 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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