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Archive for October 8th, 2007

Coup suspects in hot water over critical statements

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 05:02pm (Mla time) 10/08/2007

SANGLEY POINT, Cavite City, Philippines — Military lawyers are studying possible legal action against the 28 officers facing court martial over the alleged botched coup in February 2006 over their recent statements to media that are critical of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff, Navy Chief Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag said Monday.

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At the same time, Calunsag said the detained officers should stop issuing such statements to media. Nine of the 28 detained officers are from the Philippine Marines, which is under the Navy.

“Our legal [staff], the ones handling these cases would look into this, what legal action should be taken on statements they are doing,” Calunsag told reporters here, after he commissioned the Navy’s first-ever trainer helicopter during the 60th Naval Air Group.

“Ako ay nayayamot lang sa ating bansa [I’m frustrated with our country]. We are on one ship… It’s hard to run a ship when some people are punching holes on it,” he added.

Asked if the suspected coup plotters should refrain from making critical statements, Calunsag said: “Definitely, and I think our legal people pursuing the case would do something about it.”

At a hearing in Tanay town, Rizal province last Friday, the officers dared AFP Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to “tell the truth” behind allegations he was involved in cheating operations that propelled President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to a fresh six-year term in 2004.

The week before, their families wore t-shirts, bearing their portrait photos, and the words: “a few good men.” They also criticized Esperon for revealing reports of an alleged fresh coup, saying it was all in his head.

Esperon and Calunsag are classmates at the Philippine Military Academy. They graduated in 1974.

The highest-ranked accused, Major General Renato Miranda, is also a classmate or “mistah” of Esperon and Calunsag.

Referring to Miranda, Calunsag said: “We were together as cadets. We were together with the Marines in Sulu. We were together in the service. It’s just sad.”

Miranda allegedly knew of the plan of his co-accused, ex-Army Scout Rangers chief Brigadier General Danilo Lim and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin for a mass withdrawal of support from Arroyo on February 24, 2006.

Miranda’s sudden relief on February 26, 2006 led Querubin to lead a nightlong standoff at the Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-08T09:10:49+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 08 Oct 2007 09:10:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Abus may have slipped out of Basilan, Navy official says

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 04:02pm (Mla time) 10/08/2007

SANGLEY POINT, Philippines — The chief of Navy forces in the Western Philippines is not discounting the possibility that those behind the July 10 carnage in Basilan, which left 14 Marines killed, 10 of whom were beheaded, have slipped out of the island province.

But many of those behind the attack remain in Basilan, where heightened pursuit operations have caused Abu Sayyaf bandits and other lawless elements to scamper, and avoid contact with pursuing troops, said Rear Admiral Emilio Marayag, Naval Forces West chief.

“Some of them might have slipped away,” Marayag told reporters here Monday, after he visited the wake of four Navy commandos killed in the most recent encounter with the Abu Sayyaf on Lanjil island, off the main island of Basilan last October 2.

“I think most of them are still there. I don’t think they can just get out of Basilan because of our cordon operations,” Marayag said of the Marines’ attackers in Ginanta village, Al-Barkah town last July 10.

Asked if the suspects in the beheadings were among those who might have escaped from Basilan, Marayag said: “I cannot comment on that. I don’t have enough information.”

A Basilan court has issued arrest warrants for over 120 suspects in the July 10 incident. None of the suspects have been arrested.

The separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) owned up to attacking the Marines, saying they encroached on their territory in Ginanta but denied involvement in the beheadings, which a joint government and MILF investigation blamed on the Abu Sayyaf.

Pursuit operations led to a second major encounter on August 18 that left 15 Marines killed. A helicopter pilot was also killed after his aircraft crashed due to a technical failure.

Before the October 2 encounter, two elite Army men were killed in a string of encounters in Ungkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo towns on September 25.

Marayag said the Navy was verifying reports that the Abu Sayyaf and lawless elements that engaged the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) on October 2 were among those who attacked the Marines on July 10.

“Some of these people who were there [on October 2] were among those who ambushed the Marines on July 10. We have such information but it is easy to verify,” he said.

Marayag said Abu Sayyaf member Faisal Sadikal was killed in the October 2 encounter, confirming the presence of the al Qaeda-linked bandits in the area. Faisal’s brother, Abduraja, allegedly led the lawless elements involved in the encounter.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-08T09:02:22+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 08 Oct 2007 09:02:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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4 Navy commandos awarded posthumously

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Arroyo raises financial aid to slain soldiers’ kin

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 06:09pm (Mla time) 10/08/2007

SANGLEY POINT, Cavite City — (UPDATE 2) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has increased the financial assistance for the families of soldiers killed in combat to a quarter of a million pesos, as she conferred military honors on four Navy commandos who died in an encounter with Muslim militants in Basilan last week.

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The families of the four slain Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG) fighters were the first recipients of the P250,000 financial assistance from the Office of the President, which was increased from P100,000.

Arroyo gave Gold Cross Medals and an initial P100,000 to the families of the four Navy men when she visited their wake in this naval base south of Manila.

Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, military spokesman, said the P150,000 balance would be given at a later date.

The Gold Cross is the third highest combat honor in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) after the Medal of Valor and the Distinguished Conduct Star.

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“It is a very much welcome development for us in the military,” said Navy Flag Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Rogelio Calunsag.

“The order still stands. We are to run after the Abu Sayyaf group and lawless elements,” Calunsag added.

Rear Admiral Emilio Marayag, commander of Naval Forces West, which includes Basilan, agreed saying, “It will be a big help to the families.”

Since July 10, 36 soldiers have been killed in encounters with the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels in Basilan.

Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. assisted Arroyo in awarding the medals to the widows of Gunnersmate Third Class Jay Soguitan, Fireman First Class Machinery Repairman Michael Abrio, Seaman Second Class Quartermaster Ruel Peralta, and Seaman Second Class Radarman Joe Vincent Sistoza.

Two of the four widows are pregnant. Arroyo took time to condole with each one of them.

Soguitan was part of the January operation in Tawi-Tawi that resulted In the death of Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Abu Hubaida and Jundam Jamalul alias Black Killer.

He was promoted to the next higher rank soon after the encounter. A picture of Arroyo conferring the promotion was displayed on top of his coffin.

“He was a bemedaled sailor, a warrior” Marayag said of the slain Navy man.

Originally posted at 11:21am

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-10-08T09:01:21+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Mon, 08 Oct 2007 09:01:21 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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