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Archive for August 2007

New Marine chief to ‘plotters’: ‘Come home’

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‘Annihilate Abu Sayyaf,’ Dolorfino tells men

By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:08pm (Mla time) 08/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The new commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps called on his men to “stay apolitical” as he reached out to detained Marines being tried for a supposed failed power grab in February 2006 power grab to “come home.”

Major General Ben Dolorfino issued the calls in his assumption speech on Friday, amid rumors of a fresh plot to topple the government supposedly to be timed with the verdict on the plunder case against former president Joseph Estrada.

At the same time, Dolorfino rallied his men to “hammer down and annihilate” the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan.

“We must be apolitical at all times in order to perform our mandate,” Dolorfino said. “Changes in the system can only be made by the people or their duly-elected representatives through constitutionally established democratic processes.”

Dolorfino acknowledged that the alleged February 2006 coup plot and the one mounted in 1989, the bloodiest against then president Corazon Aquino, “created cracks [in] the institutional strength” of the Marine Corps.

“If there are still wayward minds out there, I enjoin you, my brothers, to come home and be true Marines once again,” said Dolorfino, who took over from Major General Nelson Allaga, who recently assumed his new post as Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief.

Nine Marine officers and 19 others from the Army Scout Rangers are on trial for mutiny before a court martial. The Marines include ex-Corps commandant Major General Renato Miranda and two Medal of Valor awardees — Colonel Ariel Querubin and Lieutenant Colonel Custodio Parcon.

Querubin and another co-accused in the February 2006 case, ex-Scout Rangers chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim, were involved in the 1989 uprising, but were reinstated in the service after being granted amnesty under the Ramos administration.

Authorities foiled an alleged plot by Lim and Querubin on February 24, 2006 to lead soldiers in a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose legitimacy has been questioned over allegations she rigged the 2004 elections with the help of several military officers.

Querubin also led a standoff at the Philippine Marine headquarters two days later following Miranda’s sudden relief. Allaga replaced Miranda, who allegedly knew of Lim and Querubin’s plans.

Dolorfino also tackled the July 10 and August 18 encounters with the Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro rebels in Basilan that left 29 Marines killed, 10 of them beheaded.

“Let us never be discouraged by the recent trials that beset the Corps, particularly in Basilan. All the more we should rise up and work together in pursuit of our mission,” he said.

Rallying his men, Dolorfino said: “I would also like to see decisiveness in the conduct of our operations. The enemies are meant to be hammered down and annihilated.”

Dolorfino said he would adopt a “frontline first” policy, wherein troops on the battlefield would be the first to receive administrative and logistics support.

“The individual Marine is the most important resource that makes up or units. We will make sure that he is properly trained and equipped to enhance his effectiveness and survivability in battle,” he said.

Dolorfino said he would serve as Marine Commandant and chief of the military’s National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) until September 12, when Major General Fernando Mesa succeeds him at the NCRCom.

Before the turnover ceremonies, Dolorfino inspected troops from the Marine Combat Support Brigade at the Bonifacio Naval Station, and NCRCom troops, including armored personnel carriers and two helicopters, in Camp Aguinaldo.

Dolorfino said troops have been readied for any eventuality, including possible unrest should Estrada be convicted.

“We are preparing for all contingencies including destabilization, mass actions or civil disturbances and calamities and disasters that might happen in our area of responsibility,” he told reporters.

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002007-08-31T14:45:48+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Fri, 31 Aug 2007 14:45:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm08

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‘Delfin de Guzman’ widely used rebel alias–AFP spokesman

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 02:50pm (Mla time) 08/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military claimed on Friday that Delfin de Guzman, the communist rebel commander who supposedly ordered activist Jonas Burgos placed under surveillance prior to his abduction in April, and a captured rebel with the same name who is in military custody are different persons.

Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said a check with the military intelligence community showed that there are several New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas who use the nom de guerre Delfin de Guzman.

“They are two different persons,” Bacarro said of the captured De Guzman and the rebel commander who supposedly ordered Burgos placed under surveillance on suspicions of being a government spy.

On May 11 last year, the military arrested Delfin de Guzman, alias Rafael Cruz, the alleged chairman of the Bulacan chapter of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Norzagaray town, Bulacan province.

But on Tuesday, Emerito Lipio, one of three persons police described as former rebels who could testify to the abduction of Burgos by the NPA, said he conducted the surveillance on Burgos on orders of Bulacan CPP chairman Delfin de Guzman.

It was while tailing Burgos last April 28 that Lipio claimed he saw the son of the late press freedom icon, Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr. forcibly seized from a Quezon City mall.

Burgos’ mother, Edita, and other relatives and supporters said Lipio’s account only bolstered their belief in a military and police cover up of the activists’ disappearance.

Mrs. Burgos also accused authorities of planning to recycle De Guzman as a witness to divert attention from the alleged involvement of the Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion in the abduction.

The battalion was implicated in the Burgos case after the license plate of one of the vehicles used in the abduction turned out to be the same a shat of another vehicle impounded at the Army unit’s Bulacan headquarters.

“There is no such cover up…Based on our findings, the NPA recycles names,” Bacarro said.

“The name Delfin de Guzman [and the alias] Ka Baste is a legend. They take on the name purposely for extortion,” he added.

Bacarro also said he could neither confirm nor deny Lipio’s claim that Burgos was a military agent.

“I will not be in a position to answer that. That was the revelation of Lipio,” the spokesman said.

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002007-08-31T07:49:23+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Fri, 31 Aug 2007 07:49:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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Defense chief: ‘Hello Garci not policy matter’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 01:07pm (Mla time) 08/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. distanced himself from the “Hello Garci” wiretapping controversy, saying the issue is “not a policy matter.”

Teodoro, who has been in office for 24 days, said he has not asked the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) who was behind the wiretapping of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the canvassing of the May 14, 2004 presidential vote.

“I have not asked ISAFP,” Teodoro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo on Friday.

Asked if he was interested in finding out whether or not the ISAFP was behind the wiretaps, Teodoro said: “This is an operational matter and not a policy matter for me.”

He was similarly evasive when asked if he favored the upcoming Senate investigation into the scandal.

“That’s beyond the province of my department. It’s something for the Senate,” he said.

The Senate revived its investigation into the “Hello Garci” issue after former ISAFP agent Vidal Doble resurfaced with the help of Senator Panfilo Lacson, and owned up to wiretapping Arroyo and Garcillano.

It was a different tale from the one Doble told when the tapes were leaked in June 2005, when he was still under military custody and denied involvement in the wiretapping.

In the purported wiretaps, Arroyo appears to be talking to Garcillano about plans to rig the election results with the help of some military officials.

The scandal sparked a political crisis that culminated in two failed attempts by opposition lawmakers at the House of Representatives to impeach Arroyo.

Teodoro, a former Tarlac congressman, was among the House majority that struck down the impeachment complaints against Arroyo.

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002007-08-31T06:11:15+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Fri, 31 Aug 2007 06:11:15 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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Basilan, Sulu offensives on despite Ramadan–defense chief

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 12:32pm (Mla time) 08/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Military offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu and Basilan provinces will not be suspended even for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which will start in two weeks, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Friday.

“We can’t stop the operations. When and where the operations will be conducted are up to the commanders. We cannot unilaterally go above their heads and stop it,” Teodoro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

While he would not order a halt to the operations, Teodoro said ground commanders were “sensitive enough to know the sensitivities in the area, pursuant to the rules of engagement.”

Since July 10, 57 soldiers and over 80 Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro rebels have been killed and scores injured in encounters in Sulu and Basilan.

The fatalities include 10 Marines, who were beheaded in Al-Barkah town on July 10. The 10 were among 14 killed after Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and Abu Sayyaf bandits attacked them in Ginanta village.

Troops last engaged the Abu Sayyaf in Bohelibung and Silangkom villages in Tipo-Tipo town, Basilan last Monday.

Asked about the lull in engagements, Teodoro said: “That’s up to the commanders. They exercise their own individual judgment.”

Ramadan, the holiest season in the Islamic calendar marked by day-long fasting, will start on September 12 and end on October 11.

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002007-08-31T06:10:42+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Fri, 31 Aug 2007 06:10:42 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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Police ‘weaving untenable lies’ in Burgos case — Rosal

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:29pm (Mla time) 08/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has accused police of weaving “untenable lies” when it claimed missing activist Jonas Burgos was a victim of the rebel group’s “internal purge.”

CPP spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal instead charged security forces of “dirty psywar tactics” by “torturing” police witness Emerito Lipio to force him to implicate the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Burgos case.

“Allow us to reiterate: Jonas Burgos is not a member of the NPA. The NPA has nothing to do with his abduction. All evidence point to the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) as responsible for the abduction of Jonas Burgos,” Rosal said in a statement.

Rosal said security forces were “frantically weaving one untenable lie after another” to cover up for their men, and in the process “their lies have gotten entangled in inconsistencies and contradictions and have become even more incredible.”

Rosal said Lipio and a certain Delfin De Guzman, the alleged CPP Bulacan provincial party committee, were not members of the communist movement.

Lipio is one of three alleged former NPA rebels that police presented as witnesses in the Burgos case last Tuesday. Lipio claimed that on De Guzman’s orders, he placed Burgos under surveillance on suspicion he was a military agent.

But Rosal said Lipio was actually one of seven transport leaders of the Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON), who were abducted in Angeles City, Pampanga province last year.

All of the seven, except Lipio, were released, Rosal said.

“It turns out that he has been held under secret military detention for more than a year and subjected to severe physical and psychological torture to coerce him to admit to being a member of the NPA and do whatever his abductors and jailors want him to do,” the CPP spokesman said.

Rosal said the military used De Guzman as a “witness” on the alleged links to the NPA of five supporters of detained former president Joseph Estrada who were briefly detained in Camp Aguinaldo also last year on suspicion they were plotting against the government.

De Guzman was captured in Norzagaray town, Bulacan province on May 11, 2006. Then AFP Chief General Generoso Senga presented him to media 11 days later, on May 22, in Camp Aguinaldo.

De Guzman’s being in detention for over a year prompted Burgos’ mother, Editha, to accuse the police of covering up for the alleged involvement of the military in her son’s disappearance.

Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. flatly denied this, saying: “There is no collusion with the Philippine National Police on this one.”

Torres pointed out that it was the police, not the military, who captured Lipio alias Ka Tibo, one of three police witnesses who claimed that Burgos was an NPA.

Torres said the Delfin De Guzman or “Ka Baste,” who was arrested last year in Norzagaray, was different from the one that Lipio was taking orders from.

“It seems that the Baste [that] he [Lipio] was referring to is different from the Baste that was presented last year,” the Army spokesman said.

Being a former NPA, Lipio, according to Torres, was credible enough to identify Burgos as a fellow rebel.

Burgos, the son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., was allegedly forcibly taken from a Quezon City mall last June 28.

Torres added that the police witnesses’ testimony “gives credence” to the Army’s earlier pronouncements that the NPA could be behind Burgos’ abduction.

“It is likewise a redeeming development for the military personnel whose names were mentioned in the course of the investigation,” he said.

The Army’s 56th IB was linked to his disappearance after the license plate (TAB-194) allegedly used on his abductors’ vehicle was traced to an Asian utility vehicle impounded at its headquarters in Norzagaray town, Bulacan province.

Military officials claim the plate was lost sometime between November 2006, when Clement, then commander of 56th IB, and his men were sent to San Miguel town in Bulacan and early 2007.

The commander of the 69th Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Edison Caga, looked after the camp, before Clement’s replacement, Lieutenant Colonel Melquiades Feliciano, took over in January 2007.

In May, Esperon admonished Clement, Caga, and Feliciano over alleged “negligence” that resulted to the loss of the license plate.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-08-30T09:48:08+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Thu, 30 Aug 2007 09:48:08 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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4 Navy officers, enlisted man okay after accident

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 03:11pm (Mla time) 08/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Four Navy officers and an enlisted man who were injured in a traffic accident along Roxas Boulevard on Thursday are in stable condition and recovering at the hospital, the Philippine Navy spokesman said.

One of the four officers, Lieutenant Commander Felix Luzoriaga, is under observation at the AFP Medical Center in Quezon City since he was hit on the head after their staff car collided with a truck on the corner of Roxas Boulevard and Quirino Avenue at around 8:45 a.m., Commander Giovanni Carlo Bacordo said.

The three other officers and the enlisted man, who was driving the staff car, suffered lesser “bruises and concussions” and are at the Philippine Navy Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Bacordo said.

“He is conscious and out of danger,” Bacorodo said of Luzoriaga, who was earlier reported to be in critical condition.

The five had just left the Philippine Navy headquarters on their way to the Manila South Harbor for a seminar when their vehicle collided with the truck owned by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-08-30T09:33:50+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Thu, 30 Aug 2007 09:33:50 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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1 NPA rebel killed, 4 captured in Quezon, Albay

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By Joel Guinto, Jaymee T. Gamil, Southern Luzon Bureau
Last updated 05:06pm (Mla time) 08/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) A suspected communist guerilla was killed and four others were captured in engagements with government forces in Albay and Quezon provinces on Wednesday, Army officials said Thursday.

Reports reaching Camp Simeon Ola in the province of Albay said the 15-minute clash between seven suspected members of the New People’s Army and an undetermined number of Army troopers from the 65th Infantry Battalion occurred at Sitio (sub-village) Boyog, Barangay (village) Tupas in Ligao town.

The same reports identified the communist rebel who was killed as one Maximo Perelonia alias “Kumander Taga,” whose body was brought to the Nuestra Señora de Salvacion funeral home in Guinobatan town for autopsy.

Recovered from the battle site were a .45 caliber pistol and one magazine loaded with five live ammunitions, according to reports.

Earlier on Thursday, Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., Army spokesman, identified Perelonia as Maximo Pederelio.

In another encounter Wednesday, at around 4 p.m., four suspected NPA rebels were captured after troops from the 76th Infantry Battalion engaged some 30 communist insurgents in a 15-minute firefight in Almacen village, Unisan town, Quezon province, said Captain Carlo Ferrer, public affairs officer of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division operating in Southern Luzon.

One of the four captured rebels was identified as a certain alias Marlon, an NPA vice platoon leader, while another was identified only as Joan, Ferrer said in a text message to reporters.

There were no casualties on the government side. The four captured rebels were not wounded, Ferrer said.

The encounters came as authorities were alerted over possible retaliatory attacks from the NPA, following the arrest for murder in the Netherlands of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison.

The NPA is the 6,300-strong armed wing of the CPP. It has been waging a guerilla campaign from the countryside for nearly four decades.

Originally posted at 11:53am

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-08-30T09:33:13+00:00+00:0008b+00:00Thu, 30 Aug 2007 09:33:13 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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