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Archive for May 13th, 2007

Batanes cop chief sacked over ‘ambush’ on gubernatorial bet

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But former solon says incident ‘fake’

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 08:12pm (Mla time) 05/13/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Calderon has relieved the provincial police director of Batanes province following an ambush there that left a congressional candidate wounded.

Senior Superintendent Rolando Macusi will be replaced by Senior Superintendent Rolando Duran in an acting capacity, said police deputy spokesman Chief Inspector Nelvin Ricohermoso.

Carlo Diasnes, a physician, was reportedly ambushed in Manatao village, in the provincial capital of Basco at 1 a.m. Saturday, said Chief Superintendent Ameto Tolentino, Cagayan Valley region police chief.

Diasnes is running under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino or Partner of the Free Filipino) party. He is running against Governor Vicente Gato, who is seeking a third and final term, Tolentino said.

However, former Batanes representative Florencio Abad said Diasnes faked the ambush to force authorities to relieve Macusi.

“That is really a staged assassination attempt. He wants a police chief who is more sympathetic to him,” Abad said in a phone interview.

Abad claimed Diasnes did not go to the hospital after the alleged incident and did not have it recorded on the police blotter.

He also noted that Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno is Kampi party president. The interior department, through the National Police Commission, has operational control over the PNP.

Asked if he thought Puno had a hand in Macusi’s relief, Abad said: “That would seem to be the logical conclusion.”

Abad said Batanes Bishop Camilo Gregorio of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) also believed that the ambush was staged.

Abad forwarded a text message from Gregorio that read: “Our PPCRV here headed by Father Richard Castillo will rectify the false news. Indeed, an electoral gimmick which has become a subject of laughter around here. It is boomeranging on the supposed victim.”

Gregorio did not answer his phone when contacted by INQUIRER.net. The mobile phone of the regional police chief was turned off.

In an interview before Macusi’s relief was announced, Calderon said a nine-millimeter pistol, a common service firearm of policemen, was used in the ambush.

Tolentino said no arrests were made at the scene and no firearm were recovered, but the nine-millimeter service firearms of two policemen in the area have been subjected to ballistic tests.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002007-05-13T12:26:54+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Sun, 13 May 2007 12:26:54 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Election violence claims 111 lives; 120 injured

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But Calderon says security measures ‘working’

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 04:39pm (Mla time) 05/13/2007

MANILA, Philippines — On the eve of Monday’s mid-term elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Sunday that the death toll from election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) had hit 111 with 120 more persons injured.

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But despite the loss of lives, PNP Director General Oscar Calderon said police “preventive measures are working,” pointing to the lower number of ERVIs in the run-up to this year’s polls compared to the 2004 presidential elections.

“Our preventive measures are working. Our checkpoints, warnings to candidates, and coordination with the communities are working,” Calderon told reporters in Camp Crame.

“We don’t expect the number of violent incidents to go up,” PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao Jr. said, adding that historically, the bulk of ERVIs happen in the homestretch of the campaign.

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Police data showed that as of May 12, 167 ERVIs were recorded.

A week before May 14, there were 31 ERVIs recorded, compared to the 59 recorded in the week before the May 11, 2004 elections, Calderon said.

In the week of the 2004 elections, there were 36 ERVIs recorded, Calderon said.

Of the 111 slain this year, 47 were incumbent politicians seeking reelection, 10 were new candidates, 41 were supporters of candidates, and 13 were ordinary civilians.

While police remained hopeful there will be a decline in ERVIs this year, the number of casualties from violent incidents has been increasing over the last three elections.

In 2004, 249 ERVIs left 189 people killed and 279 others wounded. In 2001, 132 people were killed while 302 were wounded in 269 EVIs

In 1998, 82 died and 175 were wounded in 267 ERVIs.

The police and the military are on the highest alert for Monday’s elections, when Filipinos will vote for senators, congressmen, party list representatives, and local government officials.

Calderon said security preparations are in place and warned police officers they will be dismissed if they engage in partisan political activities.

“Our job in this election is to ensure that voters can vote freely, without intimidation. If anyone interferes in that mission, we will arrest them,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002007-05-13T08:57:38+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Sun, 13 May 2007 08:57:38 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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PNP warns vs rebel attacks in 7 regions, 14 provinces

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 02:00pm (Mla time) 05/13/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has alerted its personnel to possible attacks by communist guerillas in seven regions and 14 provinces on Election Day, May 14, and on May 15.

In a statement, Director Alejandro Lapinid, chief of the PNP Directorate for Intelligence, said the New People’s Army (NPA) was targeting security forces on election duty, government armories, communication facilities, power plants, and police and military detachments.

The seven regions where rebels may launch attacks are Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, the Visayas, Western Mindanao, Central Mindanao, and the Caraga Region. The 14 provinces include Quezon, Batangas, Laguna, the Mindoro provinces, Rizal, Camarines Sur, and Bohol.

Lapinid said the rebels are likely to take advantage of the fact that police and military units will be busy with peacekeeping duties on Election Day.

“Intelligence reports coming from field units of the PNP revealed an increase in NPA movements and offensive activities on the weekend before Election Day in seven regions and 14 provinces,” he said.

Lapinid said that from Wednesday to Sunday, the eve of the mid-term elections, nine NPA attacks have been recorded in La Trinidad town, Benguet province; Gumaca town, Quezon province; Bontoc town, Mountain province; Dimasalang town, Masbate province; Buenavista town Agusan del Norte province; Calatrava town, Negros Occidental province; Mindoro Occidental; and Ormoc City in Leyte province.

Responding to the reported NPA threat, PNP Director General Oscar Celderon ordered police units to “maximize intelligence gathering and take appropriate security measures.”

“This planned tactical offensive is the NPA’s desperate attempt to undermine the democratic process,” Calderon said in a statement.

With the attacks, the NPA aims to “embarrass” the government before the international community, particularly the foreign election observers, Calderon said.

On Thursday, twin NPA ambuscades in the provinces of Negros Occidental and Occidental Mindoro province left five policemen and a soldier dead and at least eight other government security forces wounded.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said the attacks were the NPA’s “show of force” to justify their extortion activities.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002007-05-13T06:58:33+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Sun, 13 May 2007 06:58:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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‘Stick to security,’ Comelec-deputized troops told

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 01:20pm (Mla time) 05/13/2007

MANILA, Philippines — With 54 of its units set for deployment to tension-filled areas on Election Day, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) reminded the troops to stick to its memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

The MoA limits the role of soldiers to peacekeeping in areas with “serious armed threats” and is an offshoot of allegations that military officials helped President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo rig the 2004 elections in her favor.

“The AFP leadership’s instruction to all deputized units, and to others that may be deputized later, is to abide by the provisions of the MoA in the performance of their election duties,” Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, AFP public information officer said Sunday.

“The MoA states that a Comelec-designated representative will provide direction to deputized AFP units,” he added.

On Monday, 54 military units will be sent to the Zamboanga and Lanao provinces, and the provinces of Quezon, Masbate, Sorsogon, Western Samar, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Compostela Valley, Sarangani, Davao del Sur, Cotabato, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Sulu.

The deployment consists of 11 infantry brigades and 29 infantry battalions from the Philippine Army; and three brigades and 11 battalions from the Philippine Marines.

The AFP went on nationwide red alert starting Thursday to prepare for possible deputation by the Comelec.

“So practically, it’s the whole armed forces that’s already committed,” AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in an interview last Wednesday.

Last Tuesday, Bantay Boto (Vote Watch), 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.

Esperon Jr., who was linked to the 2004 vote-rigging controversy, has dismissed Oplan Bantay Boto as a “concoction” to “vilify” the AFP.

Last week, soldiers deployed to depressed Metro Manila communities since late last year were ordered pulled out amid concerns they were being used to campaign against left-wing party-list groups the government and military regularly tag “legal fronts” of the communist rebels movement.

Defense officials have acknowledged that the pull-out was prompted in part by the arrival of foreign election observers.

However, military and defense officials have hinted strongly that the soldiers would be back in the communities after the polls.

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Written by joelguinto

Sun+00:002007-05-13T06:00:22+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Sun, 13 May 2007 06:00:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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