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Archive for October 9th, 2007

Marines won’t release reports classified ‘military secrets’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 03:18pm (Mla time) 10/09/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Marines will not release the findings of fact-finding boards on encounters with the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan on July 10 and August 18 that left 29 of its men killed, saying that these were classified as “military secrets,” the head of the Marine Corps said Tuesday.

Major General Benjamin Dolorfino made the pronouncement even as the military and lawmakers have yet to craft a law to safeguard the disclosure of “military secrets” as directed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Administrative Order 197.

Dolorfino told Camp Aguinaldo reporters that the investigations were “half-finished.”

Asked if the investigation reports would be released to the public, Dolorfino said: “Hindi siguro [Not really].”

“It’s purely internal, military secrets. We better not [release the reports] because we’re looking at lapses and it’s unbecoming for us to tell the whole country our mistakes,” he said.

Last July 10, Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels attacked a Marine convoy in Ginanta village, Al-Barkah town, leaving 14 Marines killed, 10 of who were beheaded.

Among others, initial investigations revealed that there was miscommunication between the ground forces and air reinforcements and that the mortars of the Marines had also misfired or had failed to launch.

More than a month later, on August 18, 15 Marines, most of who were Force Reconnaissance students on a test mission, were killed after they assaulted an Abu Sayyaf camp in Silangkom village, Ungkaya Pukan town.

The commander of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 8, which figured in the July 10 encounter, Lieutenant Colonel Felix Almadrones, and his operations officer, Major Nestor Marcelino, were relieved from their posts to give way to the investigations.

The commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, which has jurisdiction over the entire Basilan Island, Colonel Ramiro Alivio, was also relieved from his post for allegedly staying in his office and not being with his men in the battlefield.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued AO 197 as the Senate investigated the military’s alleged wiretapping of the President and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the 2004 canvassing.

In portions of the purported wiretaps which were leaked in June 2005, Arroyo and Garcillano allegedly discussed cheating operations, with the help of senior military officials.

Last week, Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said intelligence officials could not be compelled to attend the Senate hearings and talk about “state secrets.”

Esperon was mentioned in the so-called “Hello Garci” wiretaps. While a military fact-finding board cleared him and three other officers of involvement in alleged cheating, its full report was never made public.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-09T07:45:31+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 09 Oct 2007 07:45:31 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Alleged Muslim rebel killed in clash with Army in Sulu

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 12:13pm (Mla time) 10/09/2007

MANILA, Philippines — A suspected Muslim rebel was killed following a 30-minute firefight between Army troopers and the combined forces of the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Sulu late Monday, the military commander in the southern island province said Tuesday.

Acting on a tip from locals, troops from the 33rd Infantry Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Divino Rey Pabayo swooped down on a temporary encampment of some 40-50 Muslim rebels in sitio [hamlet] Lumbo, Mabahay village, Talipao town at around 4:30 p.m., said Major General Ruben Rafael, chief of Joint Task Force Comet, the counter-terrorism unit.

There were no casualties on the government side. The troops recovered a Garand rifle from the rebels, who retreated after air reinforcements arrived, Rafael said in a phone interview.

“We are still verifying if there are high-value targets in the encounter,” said Rafael, who is based in the provincial capital of Jolo.

Troops in Jolo are running after Abu Sayyaf commanders Radullan
Sahiron, Doc Abu, and Albader Parad; and Umar Patek and Dulmatin, the Jemaah Islamiyah militants wanted over the 2002 Bali bombings that left 200 killed.

“They are still here. We have a naval blockade in place to prevent their escape,” Rafael said of the so-called “high-value targets.”

The last major encounters in Sulu were from August 7 to 9 when 26 soldiers and scores of Muslim renegades were killed.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-09T04:39:16+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 09 Oct 2007 04:39:16 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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