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Archive for October 1st, 2007

Danga gets new government post

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:48pm (Mla time) 10/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Retired Vice Admiral Tirso Danga, one of the key figures in the 2005 wiretapping controversy, has been give a new post in government, affording him protection from Senate summons, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Monday.

Danga was recently named “special assistant” to National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, and as such, he is bound by Malacañang’s Memorandum Circular 108, which bars government officials from testifying in legislative inquiries without the Palace’s permission, Esperon said.

Danga, who retired last September 24 when he turned 56 years old, had snubbed Senate summons to its investigation into the wiretapping scandal four times, the latest was on Monday.

Moreover, as former chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) and deputy chief of staff for intelligence (J2), Danga could not divulge “state secrets.”

“He [Danga] was the intelligence chief so there are things that we have to protect in our operations,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Crame.

Asked what Danga could invoke to evade Senate summons, even in retirement, Esperon said: “Well, state secrets. There are operational matters that he has been through as ISAFP chief… We can avail of executive privilege in the case of Admiral Danga.”

Danga joins at Gonzales’ office another central character in the wiretapping row, retired Brigadier General Marlu Quevedo, his former deputy at ISAFP during the 2004 election period.

The ISAFP had been accused of wiretapping President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the 2004 canvassing.

Portions of the purported wiretaps, leaked in June 2005, allegedly showed Arroyo talking to Garcillano about plans to rig the election results, with the help of some military officials.

The main witness in the Senate investigation, former ISAFP agent Vidal Doble, has owned up to wiretapping the President, retracting his earlier statement that the tapes were manufactured.

Doble said he was forced to deny the wiretapping for fear that the military would harm his wife and children.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-01T09:56:26+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 01 Oct 2007 09:56:26 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Esperon: Military preparing to file coup raps vs 4 officers

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 05:21pm (Mla time) 10/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines–The military is building up a case against four officers who remain under surveillance for allegedly recruiting fellow soldiers for a supposed plot to topple government, the Chief of Staff, General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Monday.

“We will build a case [against the officers]. We will haul them to court, to [a] general court martial once we get all the evidence. That’s why they are now subject to surveillance,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Crame.

Esperon remain tight-lipped on the identities of the four officers, whom he said all held the rank of lieutenant.

“We will not tell you what units are involved for operational security,” he said.

Esperon corrected his earlier statement that six junior officers had been reassigned on suspicion of recruiting soldiers for a coup plot, saying, “Actually, I said it was close to six.”

The military chief also criticized Maria Flor Querubin, the wife of detained Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin, who is among 28 officers facing court martial for mutiny over the botched February 2006 coup.

Mrs Querubin had said in a television interview that the military leadership was given additional funding each time the chief of staff disclosed an alleged coup plot.

“What’s this? We have intelligence funds to use for such purposes, but not P60 million per report [of destabilization] like what the wife of an officer claimed. I don’t know where she got the P60 million figure,” he said.

“We don’t make up information to get funding,” he said.

Sought for comment on the military chief’s statement, Mrs Querubin said in a text message “Please tell General Esperon to tell that to the Marines.”

Esperon shot back, saying it was coup suspects who were earning from alleged destabilization efforts.

“We know these destabilizers. There are groups that are funding them,” he said, adding, some officers linked to past coups have pledged soldiers for the plot in exchange for money.

Originally posted at 05:08 pm

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-01T09:40:36+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 01 Oct 2007 09:40:36 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Court ruling bars Trillanes from holding hearing in jail

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:41pm (Mla time) 10/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he was only implementing a court ruling when he blocked Senator Antonio Trillanes IV from holding a hearing in his detention cell at the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

As per the ruling of Judge Oscar Pimentel, which is handling the coup d’etat case of Trillanes and 30 others, the rebel soldier-turned-politician could not establish office or hold hearings in his cell, Esperon said.

“That’s a Marine brig, a jail, why will he conduct hearings there?” Esperon said in an interview with reporters in Camp Aguinaldo. “He can’t establish an office there. He can’t hold hearings there.”

“That is upon the ruling of Judge Pimentel. We are just implementing that. Indeed, their privileges are curtailed because they are detainees,” he added.

Esperon rejected Trillanes’ claim that preventing the Senate Committee on Civil Service which he chairs, from holding hearings in his cell, amounted to harassment.

“That’s not harassment. They are the ones that are trying to put politics inside the camp,” the military chief said.

Trillanes placed 11th in the race for 12 Senate seats in the last May mid-term elections.

He is one of the alleged ringleaders of a short-lived mutiny on July 27, 2003, when some 300, junior officers seized the Oakwood luxury apartments in Makati City to protest alleged corruption in government.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-01T09:39:54+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 01 Oct 2007 09:39:54 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Palace ‘respects’ Abalos’ resignation

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 03:56pm (Mla time) 10/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang said it “respects” Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos’ decision to resign, and at the same time “wished him well” in clearing his name.

“We respect his decision and appreciate his desire to protect his family and the Commission on Elections from vicious politics,” Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

“We wish him well as he carries on his fight to clear his name,” Bunye added.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo evaded questions on Abalos’ resignation as she made her way out of Camp Crame on Monday, when she presided at the turnover ceremony for the new Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Deputy Director General Avelino Razon Jr.

Abalos’ resignation came in the wake of allegations that he bribed the son of Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jose III, to back out of the $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) contract in favor of China’s ZTE Corp.

In an interview at police general headquarters, Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno praised Abalos’ move.

“I actually congratulate him for his patriotism, with his sacrifice through his resignation and I wish him well,” he said.

“I think he probably made his decision with the interest of the entire political situation in mind,” he added.

Puno said he was not sure if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had been informed of Abalos’ resignation.

Originally posted at 1:41pm

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-01T09:39:06+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 01 Oct 2007 09:39:06 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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President had routine check-up, says PSG chief

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 09:48am (Mla time) 10/01/2007

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not confined at the hospital but had a routine check up on Sunday evening, her chief guard said.

Arroyo had her check up at the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa City. She was back in Malacañang also on Sunday evening, Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief Brigadier General Romeo Prestoza said in a phone interview.

“This is just part of her yearly checkup,” Prestoza said when asked what the hospital visit was for.

The PSG Chief admitted to having clarified reports that the President had been hospitalized several times since Sunday evening.

Prestoza said Ms Arroyo was expected to attend the turnover rites for the new Philippine National Police Chief, Deputy Director General Avelino Razon Jr., in Camp Crame at noon Monday as scheduled.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-01T09:38:00+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 01 Oct 2007 09:38:00 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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