Deadline all the time

breaking news stories, photos, and video

Archive for October 2007

3 Masbate cops wounded in communist rebel ambush

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 04:42pm (Mla time) 10/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Three policemen were wounded in an ambush by suspected communist rebels in Masbate province on Wednesday, a regional military spokesman said.

Troops from the police Regional Mobile Group (RMG) were in the vicinity of San Pedro village, San Pascual town at around 9:30 a.m. when they were fired on by New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas, said Major Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman for the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command.

The military is confirming if the rebels suffered casualties, Cabangbang said in a text message to reporters. He could give no further details.

The 6,300-strong NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and has been waging a guerilla campaign from the countryside for nearly four decades.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2007-10-31T09:12:40+00:00UTC10bUTCWed, 31 Oct 2007 09:12:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized

26 discharged Rangers in ’06 coup plot seek reconsideration

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 12:11pm (Mla time) 10/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Twenty-six Scout Rangers linked to the alleged February 2006 coup plot will ask Army Chief Alexander Yano to reconsider his decision to discharge them from service, their lawyer said.

Acting on recommendations that were made a year ago by two investigating boards, Yano discharged the 26 elite Army men last October 24, based on evidence that they violated Articles of War 67 (mutiny) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

The alleged coup plotters were never formally charged before a military court despite being detained for over a year at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province.

“I will file a letter of appeal, a motion for reconsideration to General Yano [on the basis of] errors committed by the Philippine Army [in discharging the 26],” lawyer Vicente Verdadero said.

Verdadero said the only evidence against the 26 enlisted men were their sworn statements in a “fact-finding” mission, not a formal investigation. He said this was revealed to him by Colonel Gilberto Jose Roa, Army Judge Advocate.

“Definitely, this is not the proper way to discharge enlisted personnel as provided in their own regulation,” the lawyer said.

Asked if he was hopeful that Yano would reverse his decision, Verdadero said: “That’s the process, whoever committed a mistake, he should be given an opportunity to correct it.”

The 26 discharged Scout Rangers were among 40 enlisted men linked to the botched 2006 uprising that had been detained without formal charges.

The 14 others are to be transferred to the Custodial Management Unit (CMU) compound in Fort Bonifacio. Military investigators are also set to get their statements for the first time on November 9.

The 26 enlisted men were stopped at a checkpoint in Sipocot town Camarines Sur, allegedly while on their way to join street protests to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolt on Feb. 24, 2006.

According to their lawyers, the soldiers, when apprehended, were actually on their way back to their Bicol base, and were only following orders from their commanders.

Brigadier General Danilo Lim, ex-First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) chief, and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin allegedly planned to use the street demonstrations as a springboard for a mass withdrawal of support by soldiers from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who at that time was accused of allegedly cheating in the 2004 elections.

Then Marine Commandant Major General Renato Miranda allegedly knew of the plot and was relieved from his post, prompting Querubin to lead a standoff at their Fort Bonifacio headquarters on Feb. 26, 2006.

Miranda, Lim, and Querubin are among 28 officers — 19 from the Scout Rangers and nine from the Marines — charged with mutiny before a military court. They are all detained in Camp Capinpin.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2007-10-31T04:26:40+00:00UTC10bUTCWed, 31 Oct 2007 04:26:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized

NPA releases militiaman, Army confirms

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 02:57pm (Mla time) 10/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Army has confirmed that communist rebels in Compostela Valley province have released a militiaman kept prisoner for 23 days.

Raul Reyes, a team leader of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), is in “good condition” and undergoing debriefing following his release on Monday, 10th Infantry Division spokesman Colonel Benito de Leon said in a phone interview.

The New People’s Army (NPA) released Reyes in Casoon village, Monkayo town at noon Monday and turned him over to Compostela Valley Governor Antonio Uy and Representative Manuel Zamora, the rebels said in a statement.

De Leon said the governor turned Reyes over to Colonel Flor Martinez, commander of the 1001st Infantry Brigade operating in the province.

“He [Reyes] is okay. There are no problems, meaning he is in good condition. He is now under our custody,” De Leon said.

The statement from the NPA’s Aleandro Lanaja command said Reyes was released on “humanitarian grounds” and on his family’s request. The rebels said Reyes was cleared by an investigative body of “grave crimes.”

Reyes, village chief Glorieto Mahumas and militiaman Rudy Villaflor were capture on October 7 after the NPA raided an Army detachment in Montevista town.

Mahumas and Villaflor escaped from their captors on October 14.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-10-30T07:07:55+00:00UTC10bUTCTue, 30 Oct 2007 07:07:55 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized

Army eyes transfer 14 detained enlisted men to Ft Bonifacio

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 02:23pm (Mla time) 10/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Army is planning to transfer 14 detained enlisted men detained to Fort Bonifacio from Camp Capinpin in Rizal province to hasten the investigation — delayed for more than a year — into their alleged links to a supposed coup plot in February 2006.

This was confirmed by their lawyer, Vicente Verdadero and Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., Army spokesman, in separate interviews with reporters Tuesday.

Verdadero said the Army Judge Advocate, Colonel Gilberto Jose Roa, called him up Tuesday and informed him of the plan to transfer his clients to the Custodial Management Unit (CMU) compound in Fort Bonifacio.

“Colonel Roa said the 14 will be brought down [from Tanay]; they will be detained at the CMU. According to him, this is to facilitate the conduct of the investigation,” Verdadero said.

“Nothing is definite yet about the transfer. But if that is deemed necessary to facilitate the conduct of investigation, that can be an option,” Torres said.

Verdadero said he saw nothing wrong with the planned transfer and that Roa assured him his clients’ statements would be taken only in the presence of counsel.

On Monday, the 14 detained Scout Rangers refused to cooperate with military investigators, who went to their Tanay detention cells unannounced, since their lawyer was not present.

Last week, the Army discharged from service 26 other Scout Rangers who had been detained in Tanay, acting on year-old recommendations that found a “preponderance of evidence” that they violated Articles of War 67 (mutiny) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

Both the discharged soldiers and those who remain locked up were detained even without formal charges filed against them.

Verdadero said Roa admitted to him that getting the statements of the 14 detained soldiers a year after they were detained was a “lapse” on the Army’s part.

The lawyer said his clients are studying the legal moves they might take over the delay in the investigation.

Roa was not immediately available for comment but Torres maintained a “shortage of manpower” delayed the investigation of the detained soldiers.

“However, the investigation into the February destabilization [plot] was never neglected as the legal process on the officers is continuing,” Torres said.

Torres noted that the 28 officers linked to the plot — 19 Scout Rangers and nine Marines — have been charged with mutiny before a court martial.

The accused are led by ex-Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda, ex-First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim, and former 1st Marine Brigade chief Colonel Ariel Querubin.

Lim and Querubin, supposedly with Miranda’s knowledge, allegedly planned a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 24, 2006, to coincide with street protests marking the 20th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-10-30T06:35:53+00:00UTC10bUTCTue, 30 Oct 2007 06:35:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized

No statements from detained Rangers without lawyers present

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 03:59pm (Mla time) 10/29/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Fourteen Army Scout Rangers detained even without formal charges for their alleged participation in a supposed coup plot in February 2006 coup refused on Monday to give their statements to investigators on the advise of their lawyer.

The Scout Rangers’ lawyer, Vicente Verdadero, said he advised the 14 elite troopers not to give any statement since they were not accompanied by civilian counsel when investigators from the Army Inspector General went to their detention cells at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province.

“They cannot be investigated without a lawyer,” Verdadero said in a phone interview.

It was the first time the statements of the 14 enlisted men have been sought since they were detained in mid-2006, Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

Torres said a “shortage of manpower” at the Army Inspector General delayed the investigation of the enlisted men and that cases of human rights abuse, including those involving retired major general Jovito Palparan, had taken first priority.

“But we have reports coming from their units that would warrant their investigation on this case,” Torres said in a separate interview.

Torres refused to elaborate on the “reports” but said they showed “prima facie evidence for their complicity in the February 2006 destabilization [plot].”

On Thursday, 26 fellow detainees of the 14 Scout Rangers were discharged from service after the Philippine Army said there was a “preponderance of evidence” that they violated Articles of War 67 (mutiny) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

Torres said the detainees agreed to have their statements taken, with their lawyer present, on November 9.

“We’re still hoping they cooperate in the investigation…process in order to have a speedy impartial investigation…Their statements will be taken with the hope of probably mitigating them from the case,” he said.

The 14 enlisted men were allegedly part of a plot to declare a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 24, 2006, the 20th anniversary of the 1986 People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

Twenty-eight officers — 19 Scout Rangers, the rest Marines — are facing court martial for mutiny and are also detained in Camp Capinpin.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2007-10-29T08:35:55+00:00UTC10bUTCMon, 29 Oct 2007 08:35:55 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized

AFP insists Querubin detention in order

leave a comment »

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 03:14pm (Mla time) 10/29/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military insists there is “nothing irregular” about the detention of a Marine colonel linked to an alleged coup plot in February 2006, even as the Court of Appeals granted his wife’s petition for habeas corpus.

Even if Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. did not sign the pre-trial advice (PTA) for Colonel Ariel Querubin and his 27 co-accused, he enclosed with it a “memorandum” ordering the convening of a court martial to try the said officers for mutiny, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said.

In her habeas corpus petition, Querubin’s wife, Maria Flor, said the military had no basis to detain her husband since Esperon did not sign the PTA.

The PTA is a document prepared by Esperon’s staff judge advocate that reversed recommendations by pre-trial investigators not to charge any of the officers with mutiny.

“There is nothing irregular about it [Querubin’s detention] if you look at it from the perspective of the military justice system,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“It is not necessary [for Esperon] to sign the PTA. He attached a memorandum [ordering] the creation of a court martial,” Bacarro added.

Bacarro gave no assurances that Querubin would be presented to the court during the November 8 hearing of the habeas corpus petition, saying it was up to the Solicitor General who will represent the military in the case.

In a separate interview with reporters, Mrs Querubin said her husband was “so happy” with the appellate court’s ruling, especially since it came several days after she filed the habeas corpus petition.

Querubin said she was also eager to for a face-off in court with Esperon, who has been asked by the court to appear on the November 8 hearing.

“It’s the first time I filed a case against anyone. I’m hoping Ill see Esperon there on November 8. I’ve seen him from afar but never up close,” she said.

“If they base merits we have a good case here…the signature on the PTI is important; until now its unsigned,” she said.

Querubin, and ex-Army Scout Rangers chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim allegedly planned a mass withdrawal of support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 24, 2006, to coincide with street protests to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1986 People Power uprising.

Ex-Marine commandant Major General Renato Miranda, the highest-ranking accused before the general court martial, allegedly knew of the plot.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2007-10-29T07:50:48+00:00UTC10bUTCMon, 29 Oct 2007 07:50:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized

Filipino peacekeeper in Sudan dies of malaria

leave a comment »

INQUIRER.net
Last updated 11:16am (Mla time) 10/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines –(UPDATE) Army Lieutenant Colonel Renerio Batalla, a Filipino peacekeeper in Sudan, died of malaria on October 24, a day after before his 41st birthday and around three weeks before he was scheduled to return to the Philippines, INQUIRER.net learned Saturday.The Philippine Mission to the United Nations confirmed the report.

In an exchange of text messages, Second Secretary Elmer Cato, peacekeeping officer at the Philippine mission in New York, said the Philippine Army officer succumbed to malaria a few weeks before he was to end his one-year tour of duty with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

Quoting a report from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Cato said Batalla passed away in the southern town of Rumbek, where he served as a UN military observer monitoring the implementation of a 2005 ceasefire agreement between the Sudanese government and rebel groups.

According to Cato, UNMIS has scheduled a memorial service for Batalla in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Saturday. His remains will then be repatriated to the Philippines via Dubai.

His remains are expected to arrive at the Villamor Airbase at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Army public affairs chief Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

Batalla will be given full military honors at Villamor Airbase on Monday morning. He will be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on November 5, the spokesman added.

UNMIS has been mandated by the UN Security Council to monitor and support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, which was signed by the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army on January 9, 2005.

UNMIS has 10,000 peacekeepers, including 750 military observers whose task is to carry out monitoring and verification activities in their areas of responsibility.

The Philippines has 667 military and police personnel serving in the UN missions in Afghanistan, Cote d’ Ivoire, Georgia, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Nepal, Sudan, and Timor Leste. Of this number, 21 are military observers based in Cote d’ Ivoire (2), Liberia (3), Sudan (13) and Timor Leste (3).

According to records of the DPKO, 15 Filipino military, police, and civilian peacekeepers have died of various causes, mostly illnesses and accidents, while serving in various UN missions overseas.

Only one of these fatalities –Sergeant Antonio Batomalaque — was attributed to hostile action. He was shot and killed by gunmen while serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti in 2005, thus making him the first Filipino peacekeeper to be killed in action.

Veronica Uy with a report from Joel Guinto; originally posted 1:59 p.m., October 27, 2007

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

SunUTC2007-10-28T04:47:49+00:00UTC10bUTCSun, 28 Oct 2007 04:47:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized