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Archive for May 7th, 2007

Army troops arrest leftwing solon’s aide

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 11:05pm (Mla time) 05/07/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Army troops arrested an aide of a left-wing lawmaker on murder charges while he was on a campaign trail in Ormoc City in the central Philippines Monday evening, a military spokesman said.

Although he was not included in the arrest warrant, Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño refused to leave the side of the suspect, identified as Virgilio Borja, and accompanied soldiers in bringing him to the 801st Infantry Brigade headquarters in Burawin town, Leyte province, said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., public affairs officer of the Philippine Army.

Torres said Borja is a suspected member of the Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, tasked with securing financial and logistics support for rebels in the region.

Casiño, his campaign staff, and Borja were at the house of a supporter in Linao village at around 9 p.m. when troops served the arrest warrant on Borja, Torres said.

The arrest warrant against Borja stemmed from a murder case in November 2006, Torres said, as he clarified reports that Casiño, too, was arrested.

“He [Casiño] was not arrested. There is no warrant for his arrest,” the Army spokesman said.

“The arrest created a chain of events, including the disarming of his [Casiño’s] bodyguard,” he added.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said Borja is not a communist rebel, but a regional leader of the party-list group Anakpawis, which is allied with Bayan Muna.

Reyes said Casiño refused to yield Borja to police since his name was not on the arrest warrant.

“This is obviously harassment, whether Teddy [Casiño] or the local leader was the target, the aim is harassment,” Reyes said.

The leftwing solon earlier asked the Commission on Elections in Eastern Visayas to look into the alleged harassment committed by soldiers against their supporters in Leyte.

Casiño accused soldiers of destroying their campaign posters placed within common poster areas in five Leyte towns.

The military has accused Bayan Muna of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA), the 7,100-strong armed wing of the CPP. The group has denied the allegation.

Earlier, the military filed murder charges against Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo over his alleged involvement in the purge of alleged traitors to the communist movement in the 1980s.

The skeletons of the 67 of the alleged purge victims were recovered from a mass grave in the mountains of Inopacan town, Leyte province in August 2006. With Maila Ager

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-05-07T15:28:33+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Mon, 07 May 2007 15:28:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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‘So sue us,’ AFP dares troops on alleged vote-rigging claims

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:27pm (Mla time) 05/07/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military dared soldiers who claim to have knowledge of alleged plans to rig the May 14 elections in the administration’s favor to surface and file complaints against Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Army chief Lieutenant General Romeo Tolentino.

At the same time, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said the whistleblowers of the alleged fraud, who have hidden behind anonymity, could be bogus soldiers.

“It is very easy to say they are going to expose something and start accusing an organization by mere gut feeling…We have processes and systems that they can use,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Addressing the accusers of his superiors, the spokesman said: “Before they start shooting allegations, they should have ammo. We challenge them to show evidence.”

“I believe those that are speaking out are not soldiers,” Bacarro said.

Esperon allegedly issued a radio message ordering troops to cheat for the administration’s TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Unity senatorial slate.

Tolentino, on the other hand, supposedly sent out another radio message for troops to tear down campaign posters of ex-Navy lieutenant Antonio Trillanes IV, who is running for senator under the Genuine Opposition.

Esperon and Tolentino have denied the allegations.

Allegations of planned cheating operations on May 14 involving the military persist despite a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between the Department of National Defense (DND) and Commission on Elections.

Under the MoA, an offshoot of allegations that soldiers were used to rig the vote in 2004, the military’s role in the elections will be limited to responding to “serious armed threats.”

But following the recent wave of election-related violence, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the military to assist the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The military has expressed readiness to help the police’s peacekeeping operations, as long as troops are deputized by the Comelec.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-05-07T09:52:27+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Mon, 07 May 2007 09:52:27 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Retired generals band to guard vs poll fraud

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:36pm (Mla time) 05/07/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Retired generals have mobilized themselves to guard against election fraud amid allegations the military leadership is planning to use soldiers to ensure victory for the administration’s senatorial slate in the May 14 elections.

Among those who will be deployed to the 10 provinces where the former officers believe cheating is likely to take place are: retired deputy director general Recaredo Sarmiento, former national police chief; retired lieutenant general Romeo Dominguez, former Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) chief; and retired lieutenant general Raul Urgello, former Army commanding general, said retired commodore Ismael Aparri, member of the newly-formed Bantay Boto (Vote Watch) Coalition.

“They will be posted, our retirees, in places were cheating can take place. These are 10 provinces,” Aparri told Camp Aguinaldo reporters.

The Bantay Boto coalition identified the 10 alleged cheating hotspots based on reports of vote-rigging operations in the 2004 elections. On Tuesday, the group is expected to sign a manifesto in Quezon City proclaiming their opposition to vote-rigging, Aparri said.

“There will be cheating in certain areas. This is a group that has united to stop cheating,” Aparri said.

Groups under the Bantay Boto coalition include the Rebolusyonaryong Alyansang Makabansa (RAM), the camp of Senator Panfilo Lacson, the Young Enlisted Soldiers and Retired Military for Solidarity (YES ARMS), and the Guardians, said Aparri, who is also the spokesman for YES ARMS.

Senator Rodolfo Biazon, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, is expected to attend the manifesto-signing on Tuesday.

Aparri said retired Marine brigadier general Francisco Gudani, who is facing court martial for exposing alleged cheating operations in Central Mindanao in testimony given to a Senate investigation in September 2005, has been invited to join Bantay Boto.

“We have received text messages, coming from junior officers in the field, that they will be used for a TEAM (Together Everyone Achieve More) Unity sweep,” Aparri said.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-05-07T09:18:33+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Mon, 07 May 2007 09:18:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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