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Archive for May 22nd, 2007

Accused mutineers failed to vote, says Querubin’s wife

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 08:25pm (Mla time) 05/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Army Scout Ranger and Marine officers facing court martial over the botched February 2006 coup d’etat failed to vote last May 14, the wife of one of the accused said.

The jailed officers were not informed beforehand they needed permission from the military leadership a month in advance for a furlough to vote, said Maria Flor Querubin, wife of Colonel Ariel Querubin.

“It’s too hard, so much work to do if they’ll allow them to vote,” Mrs Querubin told reporters.

Quoting her husband’s co-accused, Lieutenant Colonel Achilles Segumalian, Mrs Querubin said jokingly, “He would have voted for Chavit Singson. The vote went to waste.”

Luis “Chavit” Singson is a senatorial candidate of the administration TEAM Unity party.

Twenty-eight officers are facing mutiny and other lesser charges before a court martial over an alleged plan to lead soldiers in a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 24, 2006, the 20th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolt.

The highest-ranked accused are former Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda and former Scout Rangers chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim.

Mrs Querubin said she campaigned for ex-Navy lieutenant and senatorial candidate Antonio Trillanes IV, who is charged before military and civilian courts over a failed mutiny on July 27, 2003.

“It shows that people really want change. The support for senator Trillanes is overwhelming,” she said.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-05-22T14:06:52+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 22 May 2007 14:06:52 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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BURGOS CASE: Army commanders face sanctions for lost plates, spare parts

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 07:28pm (Mla time) 05/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Troops’ “negligence” and “lapses” have resulted in the loss of license plates and spare parts from vehicles in various Army camps, Army Chief Lieutenant General Romeo Tolentino said Tuesday, amid accusations the military was behind the abduction of activist Jonas Burgos.

“In other units, due to negligence, these [license plates] were lost… even engines and spare parts,” said Tolentino, adding investigators were looking at the possibility some groups stole the license plate from the 56th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Bulacan province to link the military to the Burgos abduction.

The license plate on the vehicle that was allegedly used to kidnap Burgos was traced to a Department of Environment and Natural Resources-seized vehicle that has been impounded at the 56th IB base in Norzagaray town. Officials said the license plate could have been stolen.

“There were lapses. We have a policy that license plates of impounded vehicles should be turned over to the Provost Marshal. Maybe, [commanders] neglected this” said Tolentino, who ordered an inventory of all vehicles impounded inside Army camps.

“The commanders will be held liable. There will be heavy punishment,” he added.

Tolentino said that during a recent visit to the 56th IB base, Jonas’ mother, Edith Burgos, saw the impounded DENR vehicle, which was missing its headlights and other spare parts aside from the license plate.

The commander of the 56th IB, Lieutenant Colonel Melquiades Feliciano, has been placed on preventive suspension while the Armed Forces Provost Marshal investigated how the vehicle’s license plate was seen on the alleged kidnap vehicle.

Tolentino said Feliciano’s predecessor, Lieutenant Colonel Noel Clement, was also questioned since the license plate could have been stolen before Feliciano took over from his as battalion commander earlier this year.

Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he would receive the Provost Marshal report later Tuesday.

“Something got lost, something is missing, then negligence would be easy to find there. I will be looking at the report and discuss it with some of my staff within today [Tuesday],” Esperon said.

Tolentino said he knew the Provost Marshal’s findings, but refused to discuss it, saying he did not want to preempt Esperon.

But Tolentino said of the results: “You will be surprised.”

Burgos, son of the late press freedom fighter Jose Burgos Jr., was allegedly abducted at a Quezon City mall last April 28.

Leftwing groups blamed the military for the alleged abduction. Burgos had worked for the Bulacan chapter of the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines).

Denying anew the allegation, Tolentino said: “Our conscience is clear.”

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-05-22T14:05:59+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 22 May 2007 14:05:59 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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US embassy official gets police briefing on killings

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Case of missing activist Jonas Burgos left out

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 07:13pm (Mla time) 05/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Police have briefed an official of the United States Embassy in Manila on the spate of violence against left-wing militants although the case of missing activist Jonas Burgos had not been discussed, an official said.

Director Geary Barias, chief of the police Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), led the briefing for Scott Bellard at the Camp Crame national police headquarters on Tuesday.

“We have an ongoing dialogue with the PNP. We are looking for ways on how to get these cases solved. It’s a continuing dialogue and we praise the PNP for their openness,” Belard said.

When asked by reporters, Barias said Burgos’ case was not discussed.

“Every now and then he comes to us and we give him an update of the cases being handled by Task Force Usig,” Barias said.

Task Force Usig, which Barias heads, is a special police unit investigating extrajudicial killings and disappearances.

Burgos, son of press freedom icon Jose Burgos, was allegedly kidnapped in Quezon City last April 28.

The left-wing Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines, KMP) has blamed the military for Burgos’ disappearance. Burgos had worked for the group’s Bulacan chapter.

Suspicions that the military was behind Burgos’ disappearance persisted after the license plate of the vehicle allegedly used in the kidnapping had been traced to a vehicle that was impounded at the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Norzagaray town, Bulacan province.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-05-22T14:04:50+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 22 May 2007 14:04:50 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Arraignment of 28 officers in February coup deferred anew

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 07:08pm (Mla time) 05/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The 28 officers linked to the failed February
2006 uprising scored anew in their court martial trial, after the tribunal ordered military prosecutors to furnish the court with copies of the pre-trial advice (PTA) in 72 hours.

The request effectively delayed once again the arraignment of the 28 officers on charges of mutiny and other violations of the Articles of War during proceedings at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province.

“The Trial Judge Advocate General is hereby ordered to furnish copies of the documents (PTA) to all the accused within 72 hours,” said Lieutenant General Alexander Yano, the court president.

The PTA reversed the recommendations of pre-trial investigation (PTI), which had dropped the charge of mutiny or violation of Article of War 67, but recommended the filing of lesser charges, including violation of Article of War 96 or conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.

The court had ordered military lawyers to furnish the accused copies of the PTI report.

Colonel Pedro Herrera-Davila, staff judge advocate of Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., prepared the PTA.

Esperon had said that it was his “prerogative” as chief of staff to restore the mutiny charge.

A member of the prosecution panel, Lieutenant Colonel Ukol Paglala, has tried to block the release of the PTA, saying it was a “classified” document, but defense lawyers had objected.

“The PTA should be attached to the charge sheets furnished to the accused. Without this basic document there is no case,” Trixie Angeles, counsel for Army Scout Ranger Captain Ruben Guinolbay.

During a recess, one of the accused, Marine Colonel Orlando de Leon lost his temper, accusing Paglala and his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Feliciano Loy for allegedly lying in open court.

“Stop lying. You are here to dispense justice and not tell to lies,” De Leon told the two.

Three Marine officers — Colonels Armando Bañez and Januario Caringal, and First Lieutenant Belinda Ferrer — failed to attend Tuesday’s hearing since they had been confined at the hospital.

The charges against the officers stemmed from an alleged plot to unseat President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Feb. 24, 2006.

Ex-Army Scout Rangers chief, Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin allegedly hatched the plot, supposedly with the knowledge of former Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda.

Except for Captain Dante Langkit, who is detained in Fort Bonifacio, and those in the hospital, all the accused officers are detained in Camp Capinpin.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-05-22T14:03:28+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 22 May 2007 14:03:28 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Trillanes as senator ‘people’s will’ but 2003 mutiny ‘wrong’

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:54pm (Mla time) 05/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The failed mutiny in 2003 staged by a former Navy officer who is now running for the Senate was “wrong” and he must face the charges that have been filed against him over the incident, the head of the Philippine Navy said Tuesday.

At the same time, Admiral Rogelio Calunsag, flag officer-in-command, told reporters at the Philippine Navy Headquarters in Manila that former Navy Lieutenant Antonio Trillanes IV possible election as senator would be “up to the people.”

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“Hindi tama yung ginawa niya [What he did was wrong],” Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag, flag officer-in-command, told reporters at the Philippine Navy headquarters in Manila when asked to comment on Antonio Trillanes IV’s strong showing in the canvassing.

“If you have many grievances, if you don’t like the system, you get out of the system. You don’t stage a mutiny,” Calunsag said, but stressed that he was stating his personal opinion, and not the Navy leadership’s stand on Trillanes.

As a military man and graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Calunsag said Trillanes should remember that “military service is anchored on discipline.”

“If you are a company commander, when told to attack a hill, you get that hill. You cannot refuse and say, sir, we are only 120 troops against 5,000 on the hill,” the Navy chief said.

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Calunsag, who was part of the investigating panel that looked into the involvement of Scout Ranger and Marine officers in a botched coup on February 2006, said the best way to deal with mutinous soldiers was to pursue charges against them.

“Our approach is we throw the books at them so that other people will not follow. We have to be strict. If you let them off by just talking to them, they will do it again,” he said.

Trillanes has consistently been in and out of the magic 12 in the Commission on Elections and National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections tallies, placing between 9th and 14th.

Trillanes has been charged with coup d’etat before the Makati regional trial court and for alleged violation of Article of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) before a military tribunal.

Asked if Trillanes’ strong showing in the counting sent a wrong signal to troops, Calunsag said, “That’s up to the people.”

But Calunsag acknowledged that the election results were a “reflection” of the people’s will.

“Before the public elected movie stars. Maybe they got bored of the intelligent ones… Now the public voted for those who turned against the administration. That is the trend I’m seeing,” he said.

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Here are more pictured of the 109th Philippine Navy Day celebration

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-05-22T14:00:32+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 22 May 2007 14:00:32 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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Air Force chopper makes emergency landing in Cebu

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 05:36pm (Mla time) 05/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine Air Force (PAF) UH-1H helicopter has been forced to make an emergency landing at a rice field in Liloan town, Cebu province on Tuesday afternoon, due to a suspected “miscalculation” by one of its pilots, a spokesman has said.

The two pilots and two crew members, who were on a training flight, were unhurt, Lieutenant Colonel Epifanio Panzo said Tuesday.

The UH-1H made an emergency landing at around 3:15 p.m. on the same day, when it was about eight nautical miles from the 205th Helicopter Wing base on Mactan Island, Panzo said in a phone interview.

“There was probably a miscalculation and they were forced to make an emergency landing,” Panzo said.

The tail rotor of the aircraft suffered minor damage, Panzo said.

It was the second mishap in a month involving the PAF’s Vietnam War helicopters, more popularly known as Hueys.

In late April, nine people were killed after a Huey crashed in Cebu City. Investigators blamed the crash on kite strings that allegedly got entangled in its rotor.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-05-22T11:06:52+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 22 May 2007 11:06:52 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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Communist ‘tentacles’ in metro slums, universities–Esperon

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 05:24pm (Mla time) 05/22/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Saying the “tentacles” of communist rebels have penetrated even the universities, Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. hinted at the return of soldiers to slum communities in Metro Manila.

“We believe that the underground Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has its tentacles in slum communities, sectoral organizations, as well as in universities,” Esperon told reporters.

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Esperon refused to identify the communist-infiltrated universities, which he described as “areas of concern.”

“They [rebels] are trying to infiltrate student councils and even some student organizations so this has been proven by the presence of students that are found in encounter areas,” he said.

Referring to the supposed communist threat, Esperon added: “As I said its one of the reasons why there should be deployments in Metro Manila.”

Esperon said “a lot of things needs to be done” by soldiers in the capital, including engineering projects.

He also cited the reported presence of a terrorist “sleeper cell” in Metro Manila, following the surrender of eight of its suspected members to troops in Manila’s Tondo district last May 1.

But Esperon refused to categorically state whether the troops would be redeployed to the capital, saying a review of urban operations was ongoing.

The 260 Civil Military Operations (CMO) soldiers were pulled out of 19 depressed communities in Metro Manila on May 11, to erase suspicions they would be involved in electioneering during the midterm polls.

Leftwing militants have accused soldiers in the capital of campaigning against their partylist groups and harassing supporters. The military has denied this.

Two weeks ago, the Bayan Muna (Bayan, Nation First) partylist asked the Supreme Court to order the pullout of the military from Metro Manila, saying they encroached on the responsibilities of police and local government officials.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed similar concerns, adding that the deployment was reminiscent of martial law.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-05-22T11:04:52+00:00UTC05bUTCTue, 22 May 2007 11:04:52 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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