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Archive for May 17th, 2007

Trillanes: ‘Guard my votes’

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 11:45pm (Mla time) 05/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Former Navy lieutenant Antonio Trillanes IV, who is in and out of the winners’ circle in the ongoing canvass of ballots in the Senate race, asked his supporters to guard his votes, saying he “expects” Malacañang to rig poll results.

At the same time, Trillanes thanked his supporters for their “intense spirit of volunteerism,” especially when his campaign kitty was “about to be depleted” in the first week of March.

The Genuine Opposition (GO) candidate said he considered the “outpouring of support” for his candidacy as a “moral victory.”

“I expect this administration to cheat. Hence, we should not put our guard down. We must continue to be vigilant in the coming days to ensure that you collective will is respected and upheld,” Trillanes said in a statement.

“To all of you who participated or supported I any way in this campaign, I give my whole-hearted thanks. You will forever be my inspiration, my motivation, and my strength,” he said.

The statement was posted on Trillanes blog, where his podcast interview with INQUIRER.net editors and reporters was also posted.

As of Thursday evening, Trillanes was ranked 12th in the partial Commission on Elections (Comelec) canvass and the National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) quick count.

He was ranked 8th to 12th in the exit poll of ABS-CBN television and research firm Pulse Asia Inc.

Considered a dark horse in the senatorial race, Trillanes campaigned from his cell at the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, where he is detained while on trial for coup d’etat before the Makati City regional trial court, and for alleged violation of Article of War 96
(conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) before the Makati regional trial court.

He was allowed media interviews only in mid-April and was denied bail to campaign outside of his detention cell. He had no television or radio advertisements and had very few campaign posters or streamers.

Trillanes is one of the alleged ringleaders of a short-lived mutiny by some 300 junior officers and enlisted men in the Makati City financial district on July 27, 2003.

Trillanes said the 90-day campaign period was an “astonishing experience.” He said he initially feared that the public would find his candidacy and platform “unacceptable.”

Trillanes’ platform is anchored in combating corruption. He has also vowed to support moves to impeach President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whom he branded as a “corrupt leader.”

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-17T16:05:37+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 17 May 2007 16:05:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Mayoral bet’s wife hurt, gunman dies in Abra

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INQUIRER.net
Last updated 04:57pm (Mla time) 05/17/2007

BANGUED, Abra — The wife of Mayor Edwin Crisologo of Tineg town was shot and wounded by a lone gunman in a school compound in this town where the canvassing of election returns for Tineg was being held at noon Thursday.

Brenda Crisologo was shot right after the board of canvassers at the Holy Spirit Academy adjourned for lunch.

Mayor Crisologo, who was in their house in Bangued when the incident happened, said his wife and their poll watchers were left in the area when the canvassers took a break.

Senior Superintendent Alexander Pumecha, Abra police director, said Army soldiers detailed as security backup in the school compound pursued the gunman, who was killed when he engaged them in a shootout.

Pumecha identified the gunman as a certain Totoy Buyao. Mayor Crisologo told the Inquirer that his supporters recognized the gunman as a Tineg resident.

The mayor’s wife, who was shot in the chest, was taken to the Abra Provincial Hospital where she was operated on. Pumecha described her as in “in stable condition.”

Pumecha said he had sent personnel to the hospital to check on Crisologo’s condition and they reported that “they have just moved her out of the recovery room.”

CAR police director Chief Superintendent Raul Gonzales said “the motive for the attack is political, for sure.”

Crisologo assailed policemen and soldiers guarding the canvassing area for lapses, saying the gunman was able to slip past them to shoot his wife.

In Baguio City, lawyer Armando Velasco, Commission on Elections (Comelec) director in the Cordillera, ordered the investigation of policemen and soldiers assigned to the canvassing area and police officials in Abra for lapses in security.

Velasco said he suspected some security men there might be favoring some politicians, citing a previous incident of ballot snatching in the same school which happened while policemen and soldiers were around.

He said he had raised this suspicion with Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos and asked the poll body for additional men to secure the canvassing in Abra, which is under Comelec control.

Velasco had ordered all ballots from Tineg counted inside the school “as a deterrent to violence because we presume no one would become hostile” as the school is near a church.

Security personnel had restricted access to the canvassing area, and had only opened the back door to election officers, teachers and supporters of local candidates.

Soldiers and policemen, carrying automatic rifles and grenade launchers, were guarding the building and its perimeter. But there were several vehicles, which had no plates, parked around the building.

Some residents claimed that among the observers watching the canvass were bodyguards of the candidates, some of them armed with pistols.

Originally posted at 1:30pm; Joel Guinto, INQUIRER.net; Leoncio Balbin Jr., EV Espiritu and Vincent Cabreza Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-17T13:03:37+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 17 May 2007 13:03:37 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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4 cops in ‘restrictive custody’ for Batangas school fire

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‘Could be linked to mayoral bet,’ says official

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 08:33pm (Mla time) 05/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 4) Police officials say four, not five, policemen were disarmed and placed under restrictive custody on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the burning of a school in Taysan town, Batangas province that left two persons dead and six others wounded.

The reduced count was disclosed by Director Geary Barias, chief of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) and head of a task force investigation election-related violent incidents, who said “there was a mix-up.”

It was also Barias who said five policemen, including an Inspector, and all from the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), are in custody at Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba town, Laguna province, while the investigation into the case is ongoing.

Barias also said the five “could be linked” to Taysan Mayor Hernando Villena, who is seeking reelection, and is leading in the canvassing of votes.

But Thursday evening, Barias quoted Chief Superintendent Nicasio Radovan, police director for Calabarzon, as saying “only four were taken into custody.” He did not say if the Inspector was among the four.

Asked to explain the discrepancy, Barias would only say: “We will shed light on that tomorrow [Friday].”

Reports from the time of the attack on the Pinagbayanan Elementary School said that around 3 a.m. Tuesday, five men barged into the school and set fire to the ballots then fired their weapons as they fled. Teacher Nellie Banaag and poll watcher Leticia Ramos died in the fire that razed the school and 10 others were hurt.

The reports said the attack was carried out despite the deployment of several police and military personnel to the place.

Barias said the four policemen are expected to be brought to Camp Crame for paraffin and ballistics tests.

At the same time, he said RSOG chief, Superintendent Roger James Brillantes, has been relieved from his post and will also undergo questioning at Camp Crame.

“Brillantes has to explain why his men were there” in Pinagbayanan at the time of the attack.

Earlier, Barias said arson and murder charges, as well as administrative charges that could result in their dismissal from the service, would be filed against the policemen.

Ironically, Barias’ disclosure totally debunked Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Calderon’s initial statement following the attack in which he not only blamed the New People’s Army but also cleared Villena.

Calderon at the time said the burned ballots would not be enough to turn the tide of the Taysan vote, which Radovan said was then 1,000 to 25 in favor of Villena over his opponent, Victor Portugal.

“Of course we feel so very bad about this development. If they are guilty they really should suffer the consequences, [the] maximum penalty…Let the ax fall where it may,” added Barias, who heads the

Artist’s sketches of two of the five men in the burning matched two of the policemen. The other attackers wore bonnets to cover their faces.

“They are already identified with the camp of Villena, meaning there are some activities that they were undertaking which would link them to Myor Villena,” he said.

Barias said the investigation would also focus on the possible liabilities of Villena and Brillantes.

The involvement of policemen in the attack was first admitted earlier Thursday by Chief Superintendent Edgard Doromal, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), who said two policemen were being hunted for the incident.

Police have recorded 380 violent incidents during the election period, of which 153 had been politically motivated, 124 not politically motivated, and 103 up for validation.

Of those tagged as politically-motivated, 55 were cases of “harassments” that did not cause injuries or deaths, 57 resulted in injuries, while 41 resulted in deaths, data from the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) showed.

Of the 124 that did not involve politics, 27 were cases of harassments, 41 resulted in injuries, 49 in deaths, and seven abductions, data showed.

And of the 103 still being validated, 48 were cases of harassment, 28 resulted in injuries, 21 in deaths, and six abductions, data showed.

Originally posted at 10:23 am

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-17T13:02:06+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 17 May 2007 13:02:06 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Mayoral bet’s wife, gunman die in Abra shooting

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 1:28pm (Mla time) 05/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The wife of a reelectionist mayoral candidate in Abra province was shot dead and the gunman killed trying to resist arrest on Thursday, police said.

Brenda Crisologo, wife of Tineg town Mayor Edwin Crisologo, died at the Abra Provincial Hospital, where she was rushed after being shot three times by the still unidentified gunman inside the Holy Spirit school in Bangued town, Superintendent Joseph Adnol, spokesman of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) police, said.

CAR police director Chief Superintendent Raul Gonzales said the Crisologos were on the fourth floor of the school at around 12:30 p.m. to monitor the canvassing of votes when the gunman fired at them at.

Brenda was hit three times.

The gunman resisted arrest, prompting police to shoot and kill him, Gonzales said in a phone interview.

“The motive for the attack is political, for sure,” Gonzales said.

Abra is one of five provinces that have been placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) due to election-related violence.

Despite this, the election period in the province has been marred by continuing bloodshed.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-17T06:10:22+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 17 May 2007 06:10:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Explosion rocks Basilan canvassing site

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 12:55pm (Mla time) 05/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Unidentified suspects lobbed two grenades at a canvassing site in the southern island province of Basilan on Wednesday evening, although there were no reported casualties, police officials said Thursday.

The attack on the Basilan State College in Sumagdang village, Isabela City occurred at around 9 p.m., said Chief Superintendent Joel Goltiao of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

One grenade exploded outside the school gate, while the other, which was hurled inside the compound, did not explode, said Goltiao.

The attack suspended canvassing for the night. Counting resumed at around 8 a.m. Thursday, said Senior Superintendent Alex Macapantar, Basilan provincial police commander.

“It’s more of harassment. We suspect losing candidates were behind this,” Goltiao said.

At the time of the attack, election officials were canvassing votes for Lantawan town, Macapantar said.

Asked if the attack was election-related, Macapantar said, “Yes, why else would they attack the canvassing area.”

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-17T05:18:01+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 17 May 2007 05:18:01 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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8 self-confessed members of terror ‘sleeper cell’ surrender

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 11:10am (Mla time) 05/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Eight self-confessed members of a terrorist “sleeper cell” in Metro Manila surrendered to Army troops then deployed in the urban poor communities, the regional military commander said.

The eight suspects admitted that they had been part of a 38-man Special Operations Group with bomb-making capabilities, but did not say if they had belonged to any of the al Qaeda-linked groups in the country: the Abu Sayyaf, the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), said Major General Ben Dolorfino, chief of the Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom).

The eight, all males in their 30s and 40s, also admitted that they knew of the 2005 Valentine’s Day bomb attack on a passenger bus in Makati City, Dolorfino said.

“They were planted here in 1996 probably to pursue the plans of the secessionist group. But through the years, they were involved in terrorist activities. They actually admitted that they have knowledge about the Valentine’s Day bombing,” Dolorfino told reporters.

“They have given valuable information to that we are now pursuing,” Dolorfino said.

The eight surrendered to Army Civil Military Operations (CMO) troops in Manila’s Tondo district last May 1, Dolorfino said.

“At first, they approached our team in Tondo last March, and then in the course of the dialogue, their surrender was realized. They turned over their firearms last May 1 at the NCRCom headquarters,” Dolorfino said.

No charges were filed against the eight, whose firearms had been returned under the military’s “Balik-Baril” or “amnesty” program for unlicensed firearms. They were paid P58,000 for surrendering the Springfield rifle, sub-machine gun, three .45-caliber pistols, two .38-caliber pistols, grenade, and homemade shotgun, Dolorfino said.

The eight are also undergoing training in cellular phone repair to give them an alternative means of livelihood, Dolorfino said.

“This is part of the process of [their] going back to the folds of the law,” he said.

Dolorfino said the surrender was the “most valuable” outcome of the six-month stay of some 260 CMO troops in 19 villages in the metropolis for community service projects.

The two-day pullout process of the CMO soldiers finished last Friday. A review is underway at military general headquarters to determine if they will be redeployed.

Left-wing militants have accused the troops of harassment and politicking against their party list organizations during their stay in Metro Manila’s urban poor communities. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said the deployment was reminiscent of martial law, and that soldiers were encroaching on the responsibilities of police and local government units.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-17T04:25:49+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 17 May 2007 04:25:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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2 cops hunted for link to Batangas school fire

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 10:23am (Mla time) 05/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Two policemen are being hunted down over their alleged involvement in the burning of an elementary school building in Taysan town, Batangas province that left two poll watchers killed and two others injured, a police official said.

Chief Superintendent Edgard Doromal, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said witnesses saw the two policemen set the school on fire before dawn last Tuesday, a day after the mid-term vote.

In a phone interview, Doromal could not immediately give the identities of the two, who are reportedly members of the Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG).

“My instruction is for my men to coordinate with the regional director for their arrest,” Doromal said, referring to Chief Superintendent Nicasio Radovan, police chief for Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) region.

Reached for comment, Radovan said: “I don’t have information on that yet.”

Asked what motivated the two policemen to set the school building ablaze, or if they were hired by rival politicians, Doromal said: “That is the subject of our investigation.”

Police have recorded 380 violent incidents during the election period, of which 153 had been politically motivated, 124 not politically motivated, and 103 up for validation.

Of those tagged as politically-motivated, 55 were cases of “harassments” that did not cause injuries or deaths, 57 resulted in injuries, while 41 resulted in deaths, data from the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) showed.

Of the 124 that did not involve politics, 27 were cases of harassments, 41 resulted in injuries, 49 in deaths, and seven abductions, data showed.

And of the 103 still being validated, 48 were cases of harassment, 28 resulted in injuries, 21 in deaths, and six abductions, data showed.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2007-05-17T04:24:15+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 17 May 2007 04:24:15 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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