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Archive for September 24th, 2007

Danga retires and can’t be stopped from testifying in probe

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:12pm (Mla time) 09/24/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Vice Admiral Tirso Danga, one of the key figures in the 2005 “Hello Garci” wiretapping controversy, retired from the service Monday, and the military said it could no longer stop him from testifying before a Senate investigation on the matter.

“Once he is retired. We no longer have a hold on him. He is a civilian,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Bacarro said he was not sure if Danga, as a former chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), took an oath of secrecy that would prevent him from discussing confidential matters even in retirement.

On Monday, Danga turned 56, the mandatory retirement age of military personnel. He stepped down from his last post, as chief of the Western Command (Wescom) in Palawan, in June.

Danga snubbed an earlier investigation by the Senate to appear in its investigation on the wiretapping controversy.

The military has invoked Executive Order 464 and Memorandum Circular 108 for its officials to skip legislative inquiries when they fail to secure the Palace’s permission to attend.

He was ISAFP chief during the 2004 election period, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was allegedly wiretapped while talking to former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano about plans to rig the election results.

Danga addressed the issue only once. When former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy director Samuel Ong surfaced with the so-called mother of all tapes in early June 2005, he told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo that no such tape exists and that the ISAFP had no wiretapping capabilities.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-09-24T09:52:18+00:00+00:0009b+00:00Mon, 24 Sep 2007 09:52:18 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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AFP scouring ranks for more ‘coup plotters’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:27pm (Mla time) 09/24/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military is undertaking “follow up operations” to find if there are any other troops involved in an alleged new coup plot following the relief of six soldiers who had allegedly been recruiting for the supposed plot, a spokesman said Monday.

At the same time, Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro defended Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. from charges he had been harping on the supposed coup plot to divert public attention from new allegations of corruption against the government.

Bacarro said the “follow-up” is meant to “establish linkages” and “if there are others” who are part of the supposed coup plot.

Despite the relief and reassignment of the six troopers — junior officers and enlisted men — Bacarro said text messages urging soldiers to join attempts to overthrow the government have continued to circulate. He refused to identify the six.

“There is a follow-up operation; there is a follow-up being conducted right now,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Yet, at the same time, Bacarro dismissed the seriousness of the alleged coup plot.

“There is no eminent threat, but one thing is definite — the Armed Forces of the Philippines has been undertaking some activities that would show [its] preparedness to address [the threat] just in case.”

Addressing Esperon’s critics, Bacarro said: “I think the CS [Chief of Staff] wouldn’t be making any statement relative to the recruitment without any basis. What has he to gain [from this]? Nothing.”

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-09-24T09:51:41+00:00+00:0009b+00:00Mon, 24 Sep 2007 09:51:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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Robbers break into press office in military headquarters

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3 central processing units stolen

By Joel Guinto
Last updated 01:30pm (Mla time) 09/24/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The press office at the general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, near the office of Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr., has been robbed.

When reporters came to work on Monday, they discovered three central processing units (CPU) missing — those belonging to Victor Reyes from Malaya, Anthony Vargas of the Manila Times, and Verlin Ruiz from

Pilipino Star Ngayon reporter Joy Cantos, who was first to arrive at the office at around 10 a.m. noticed that although the door was closed, it was not locked. She said there were no signs of forced entry.

Daily Manila Shimbun reporter Ronito Calunsod was the last person to leave the office before the burglary was discovered, at around 9 p.m. Sunday. He said the three CPUs were still on his colleagues’ desks when he left.

Military police have taken the statements of Cantos and Reyes.

Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, military spokesman, has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

“Why did they take the computers?” Philippine Star reporter Jaime Laude said, noting that the burglars could have taken the brand new television set and digital cable TV receiver, which were lighter, and closer to the door.

The burglars also didn’t touch the reporters’ lockers.

The stolen CPUs were relatively older compared to those in the Defense Press Corps (DPC) office.

The DPC office is located in the same building as Bacarro’s office, the Armed Forces Public Information Office (PIO), and around 200 meters from Esperon’s office at the general headquarters building.

It was the third reported burglary inside military general headquarters this year. The quarters of Army Major Jason Aquino, one of the suspects in the February 2006 botched coup, was burglarized twice — in February and in March.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-09-24T09:51:07+00:00+00:0009b+00:00Mon, 24 Sep 2007 09:51:07 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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