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Archive for October 16th, 2007

CPP spokesman’s ‘death’ remains unconfirmed–AFP

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 04:53pm (Mla time) 10/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The reported death of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal remains unconfirmed, a spokesman for the military said Tuesday.

Efforts by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (J2) and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) have so far failed to prove that Rosal has succumbed to a lingering illness.

“As of now, we don’t have reports that would either confirm or deny that [Rosal is dead],” AFP public information officer Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Rosal had not been giving media interview for months, fueling speculation his health was deteriorating. He was reported to have suffered from a stroke several years back.

The Army’s spokesman has taken this silence to indicate Rosal’s death.

“A Ka Roger that does not issue a verbal statement to the media is a dead Ka Roger,” Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said in a text message to reporters.

But even if this were so, Bacarro said Rosal’s death would have “no impact” on the operations of the New People’s Army, the CPP’s armed wing.

“Roger is not a tactician. He did not rise to prominence because of his tactical exploits. Basically he came out as a spokesperson, a propagandist,” Bacarro said.

Aside from serving as CPP spokesman, Rosal also served as commander of the NPA’s Melito Glor Command based in Southern Luzon, one of the hotbeds of the communist insurgency.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-16T09:26:53+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 16 Oct 2007 09:26:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Army told to probe abduction of Samar activist

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 04:38pm (Mla time) 10/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Army has been tasked to investigate allegations its men were behind the abduction of an activist working for a left-wing fisherfolk group in Samar province, who has been missing for five months, a spokesman for the military said.

This after the parents of Juliet Fernandez, 32, and officials from the militant groups Gabriela and Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) met with Colonel Benedicto Jose, head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) human rights office in Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday, AFP public information officer Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said.

“Initially, the action of the Armed Forces of the Philippines [is] they will be forwarding the complaint to the Philippine Army for their initial investigation,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

A fact-finding mission by Gabriela concluded that Army troops kidnapped Fernandez in Calbiga town, Samar last May 11.

Fernandez served as secretary general of Gabriela Youth during her college days at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) before working for Karapatan, and later for the Samar affiliate of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya or National Federation of Fisherfolk Organizations).

Bacarro said Fernandez’s parents were the first kin of alleged victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to seek an audience with the recently created AFP human rights office.

“We appreciate their coming to us so we can act on those complaints and check if indeed soldiers were involved in Ms. Fernandez’s disappearance, and to show the public that we do not condone such act[s],” Bacarro said.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-16T08:48:22+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 16 Oct 2007 08:48:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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RP-US war games open in 3 provinces

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 02:31pm (Mla time) 10/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Saying that the global war against terrorism should be an “aggressive, collective effort,” the commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps stressed the importance of war games between Filipino and American military forces.

Major General Ben Dolorfino issued the statement on Tuesday, as he formally opened this year’s Phiblex amphibious war games during ceremonies at the Philippine Marine headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

An estimated 3,500 Filipino and American soldiers will take part in Phiblex, which will run until October 31 in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province, Crow Valley in Tarlac province, and the Marine Base in Cavite province.

“This annual RP-US bilateral military exercise, undertaken within the accord of the Mutual Defense Treaty has become more significant in the light of the current global and regional security concerns, foremost of which is the war against terrorism,” Dolorfino said in a speech.

As he thanked US soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Force (JSOF), who have been providing intelligence support to troops in Sulu, Dolorfino said: “Indeed, the war against terrorism requires an aggressive, collective effort.”

“It is only through enhanced interoperability between our forces that we can effectively address any threat in this region,” he said.

Dolorfino said the Phiblex this year was expanded to include troops from the Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force.

“It’s about interoperability in building relationships between two strategic forces that are partners together here in the Pacific,” said Colonel John Mayer from the US Marine Corps., the Phiblex exercise co-director.

“We are working on a variety of tasks, not only in such as firing artillery, even working on rapid planning skills. We are working on basic infantry skills. We are also doing community relation projects, medical and dental projects,” Mayer said.

The Phiblex opened after another joint exercise with American troops, Talon Vision, opened at the Clark Air Field in Angeles City and the former Subic Naval Base in Olongapo City last Monday.

On Wednesday, some 5,000 Filipino and Australian Navy men will kick-start table-top exercises in Cebu province.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-16T08:26:30+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 16 Oct 2007 08:26:30 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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With Ramadan over, offensives vs Abu to resume–Dolorfino

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 01:50pm (Mla time) 10/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military is poised to resume “wide-scale” offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in the south after the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan last October 12, the commandant of the Philippine Marines said Tuesday.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines is maintaining the momentum and I’m sure [that] the campaign will pick up again because the month of Ramadan is now past and we can now conduct wide-scale military operations,” Major General Ben Dolorfino told reporters in Fort Bonifacio.

The military is running after Abu Sayyaf leaders in the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu, where fierce clashes since July 10 have killed 62 soldiers and dozens of extremists.

On the main island of Jolo in Sulu, the Abu Sayyaf is allegedly coddling Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) explosives experts Dulmatin and Umar Patek, believed to be the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings.

“I believe they are still in the area,” Dolorfino said, when asked about the JI militants.

The military reported two encounters with the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels during Ramadan.

On September 25, two elite Army men and an estimated 10 Abu Sayyaf members were killed in a string of encounters in Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan towns in Basilan. Seven other Army troops, an Air Force man, and a militiaman were wounded.

Last October 2, four soldiers and an estimated 11 Abu Sayyaf fighters were killed in an encounter on Lanjil Island off Basilan.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-16T06:25:23+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 16 Oct 2007 06:25:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Marine chief: ‘Coup try could spark civil war’

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Admits claims of Palace bribery affecting troops

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 01:29pm (Mla time) 10/16/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps on Tuesday stressed the need for military unity and neutrality, warning that a civil war could break out should soldiers join attempts to overthrow the government.

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At the same time, however, Major General Ben Dolorfino admitted that troops have been affected by allegations Malacañang has been bribing local officials to support President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the face of a new impeachment complaint.

“A civil war is not farfetched if the Armed Forces is involved [in a coup try]. That is the main reason why we should remain solid and neutral at all times,” Dolorfino told reporters at the Marines’ Fort Bonifacio headquarters.

“Let’s not gamble again, next time, it will be a civil war. It’s hard if people with guns are involved,” he added.

Asked if his men were affected by the bribery allegations, Dolorfino said: “In one way or another we are affected, but our professionalism should reign over our respective personal and political interests.”

Pressed about why he thought a fresh military uprising could turn violent, the Marines chief said: “We cannot discount that possibility.”

Dolorfino cited the example of ex-Marine commandant Artemio Tadiar, who during the 1986 People Power uprising refused to follow then chief of staff Fabian Ver’s order to shoot protesters massed up on EDSA, the highway leading up to Camps Aguinaldo and Crame.

“Had the former commandant, General Tadiar, not been as professional, it could have become a bloody confrontation between the pro-government and government forces,” Dolorfino said. “So we cannot take chances as far as the use of military force is concerned.”

Over the weekend, a number of local chief executives and congressmen have come forward to admit receiving between P200,000 to P500,000 following a meeting in Malacañang last Thursday.

The revelations have sparked accusations the Palace is buying the local officials’ loyalty as Arroyo faces a new impeachment complaint stemming from allegations of corruption surrounding the government’s $329-million contract with China’s ZTE Corp. to build a national broadband network (NBN).

Arroyo has cancelled both the ZTE contract and the NBN project.

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Written by joelguinto

Tue+00:002007-10-16T06:23:58+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Tue, 16 Oct 2007 06:23:58 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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