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Archive for May 12th, 2007

20,000 soldiers off to election hot spots

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:54pm (Mla time) 05/12/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Fifty-four military units have been deputized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and would be deployed to hotly contested areas on Monday, election day, a spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Saturday.

The deployments include: two infantry divisions, one joint task force, 11 infantry brigades, and 29 infantry battalions from the Philippine Army; and three brigades and 11 battalions from the Philippine Marines, said Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro.

The troops will be sent to the following provinces: Quezon; Masbate, Sorsogon, Western Samar, the Zamboanga provinces, Zamboanga City, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Campostella Valley, Sarangani, Davao Oriental, Davao Del Sur, Cotabato, Agusan Del Sur, Surigao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and the Lanao provinces, Bacarro said.

Communist New People’s Army (NPA) guerillas and private armed groups were monitored in the said areas, the spokesman said.

“The Comelec has issued Resolution 7913 that deputizes 54 military units for the election,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“They were deputized to thwart strong armed threats. They will be deployed in areas where strong armed threats have been monitored,” he added.

Bacarro could not immediately ascertain how many troops compose the 54 Army and Marine units. But based on the normal size of the said units, the number could reach 20,000.

A memorandum of agreement between the Comelec and the Department of National Defense, which was signed in October 2006, limits the role of soldiers in the May 14 elections to peacekeeping.

The agreement was an offshoot of allegations that soldiers were used to rig the 2004 elections in favor of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Last week, Bantay Boto, a group of retired military and police generals warned of a cheating plan allegedly involving military officials, dubbed “Oplan Mercury Rising,” to ensure the victory of the administration’s senatorial slate.

Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has dismissed the alleged plan as a “concoction” to “vilify” the AFP.

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Written by joelguinto

Sat+00:002007-05-12T12:08:12+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Sat, 12 May 2007 12:08:12 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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