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Archive for October 17th, 2007

Detained officers hit Palace over cash gift to local execs

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 03:22pm (Mla time) 10/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The 28 officers linked to the alleged coup plot in February 2006 criticized Malacañang for not releasing money for the increase in soldiers’ combat pay, while giving cash to local officials to secure their support for the President, who is facing a new impeachment complaint.

“No funds for them [soldiers], but Malacañang can afford to give every toady congressman, governor, and other local government official half a million pesos each,” detained Army Scout Ranger and Marine officers said in a statement.

At the same time, the group said troops were “deeply affected” by the bribery allegations, contrary to claims by the military leadership.

But Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, military spokesman, said the P240 monthly increase in combat pay was still awaiting approval from Congress.

Bacarro said the amount would raise to roughly P2,500 or 25 percent the base pay of a private. This is on top of the P150 combat incentive pay, he added.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced the increase in combat pay last August 28 after she presided over a military and police command conference at Camp Navarro in Zamboanga City.

At that time, the military was reeling from heavy losses against the
Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu, where fighting since July 10 have left
62 soldiers and dozens other Muslim rebels killed.

The group took a swipe at Major General Ben Dolorfino, Marine Commandant, who appealed anew to soldiers to remain neutral and played down the effect of the bribery allegations on troop morale.

“If pervasive corruption and the stark truth don’t bother you, the soldiers are deeply affected by them,” the Army Scout Ranger and Marine officers addressed Dolorfino in a statement.

“Tell that to the marines who are in harm’s way in Sulu and Basilan who have been promised a pittance increase in their combat pay,” said the officers, who are detained at an Army camp in Tanay town, Rizal province.

The group also returned the dare to be apolitical to Dolorfino, saying he was keeping a “blind eye” to allegations that Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. was involved in alleged election fraud that propelled Arroyo to victory in 2004.

“It’s not professionalism and neutrality when your chief of staff cheats in elections and in the process dragging the AFP in partisan politics. He continues to lie up to this time,” the group said.

“You’re not a professional and neutral when you continue to keep a blind eye. There’s no such thing as being neutral when it comes to the truth,” the group added.

Should the time come that Dolorfino would be ordered to shoot anti-government rallyists, the coup suspects said he should follow the example of one of his predecessors, retired Brigadier General Artemio Tadiar, who during the 1986 People Power revolution defied orders to fire at the rallies along EDSA.

The February 2006 suspects, led by Major General Renato Miranda, ex-Marine commandant; Brigadier General Danilo Lim, ex-Scout Rangers chief; and Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin had allegedly planned to join street protests to mark the 20th anniversary of the bloodless uprising, and would have allegedly used this as a springboard for a mass withdrawal of support from Arroyo.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002007-10-17T07:58:41+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 17 Oct 2007 07:58:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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‘Show yourself,’ AFP dares ‘fighting’ Rosal

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 02:09pm (Mla time) 10/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military on Wednesday dared Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spokesman Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal to “show himself” and dispel talk he had died or was in critical condition.

“The only proof [for Rosal] to say that he is alive is to show himself,” Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Instead of issuing written statements to media, as he did earlier in the day, Bacarro said Rosal should grant interviews to reporters.

“To put substance to that statement, to prove that he is alive, he should show himself,” Bacarro said.

Rosal said he was “alive and fighting” and was not contacting media for fear that the military could trace his whereabouts through his cellular phone.

But Bacarro claimed the military did not have the capability to track down persons using the signal of their cell phones.

“That’s too high tech. I believe we do not have them capability [for that],” he said.

Bacarro clarified that the military never presumed Rosal to be dead, and was only verifying reports of his demise.

INQUIRER.net tried contacting Rosal on five mobile phone numbers he had used in the past two years to call up reporters or send text messages. Four of the five lines were out of reach.

On one line, a female voice answered but quickly hung up. A text message from INQUIRER.net to that number, inquiring about Rosal’s condition, was not returned.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002007-10-17T07:06:20+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 17 Oct 2007 07:06:20 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Charges dropped vs 4 junior officers in 2003 mutiny

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But 2 to face separate court martial for new case

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 01:31pm (Mla time) 10/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Charges against four junior officers linked to a failed mutiny in July 2003 have been dropped due to lack of evidence, although two of them are not yet completely off the hook, a military prosecutor said.

Army Second Lieutenants Angelbert Gay and Aldrin Baldonado will face a separate court martial for allegedly “conspiring with destabilizers,” said Colonel Pedro Herrera-Davila, the lead military prosecutor.

The two others, Captain Francis Balan and Navy Ensign Ronald Paras, have been recommended for return to full duty status, Davila said.

Gay and Baldonado went AWOL (absent without official leave) and were arrested with three other fugitive officers and another Navy junior officer also on AWOL in Quezon City in July 2006.

A cache of explosives were seized from the group, who allegedly planned an assault on the House of Representatives during President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation address that year.

Gay, Baldonado, Balan, and Paras had petitioned the court to drop the charges against them for “nolle prosequi” or lack of evidence. They were charged with violating the Articles of War 68 (failure to suppress mutiny) and 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).

Although Gay, Baldonado, Balan, and Paras were not with the 300 junior officers and soldiers that seized the Oakwood luxury apartments on July 27, 2003, their names were found in computer diskettes that were retrieved from the building.

“The motion of the prosecution [for nolle prosequi] is granted,” said Brigadier General Nathaniel Legaspi, court president.

Davila said the court’s approval of the motion would be subject to the concurrence of General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., the Armed Forces chief, as the tribunal’s convening authority.

“On account of having gone AWOL and conspiring with destabilizers, accused Baldonado and Gay will now be prosecuted for a different case, before a different court martial by the Philippine Army,” Davila said.

Gay, Baldonado, and the four others who were captured with them in July 2006 — Army First Lieutenants Nathaniel Rabonza, Sonny Sarmiento, and Patricio Bumidang Jr., and Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Kiram Sadava — were also charged with illegal possession of firearms before a Quezon City court.

Rabonza, Sarmiento, and Bumidang escaped from Fort Bonifacio in January 2006 with another fellow Magdalo officer, First Lieutenant Lawrence San Juan.

San Juan was captured in Padre Garcia town, Batangas province in February 2006.

Rabonza, Sarmiento, and San Juan are the co-accused of the 29 alleged ringleaders of the July 2003 uprising in their coup d’etat case before the Makati regional trial court, and a separate court martial case.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002007-10-17T07:05:39+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 17 Oct 2007 07:05:39 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Marine chief wants probe on Basilan clashes under wraps

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 12:58pm (Mla time) 10/17/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Saying there was a danger of “telegraphing” the military’s moves to its enemies, the commandant of the Marine Corps insisted that reports on two major clashes with the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels in Basilan, where 19 of his men were killed, should not be publicized.

Major General Ben Dolorfino told reporters that a Marine board investigation into the July 10 carnage in Ginanta village, Al-Barkah town that left 14 Marines killed, 10 of who were beheaded was “almost done.”

Meanwhile, the separate board tasked to look into the assault on an Abu Sayyaf camp in Silangkom village, Ungkaya Pukan town last August 18 that left 15 Marines killed, has just started its inquiry, Dolorfino said.

“We are focusing our inquiry on the military aspects of the event, that’s why the result of the investigation is classified in nature… If we make this public, it will be known by the enemy and they can even telegraph the subsequent corrective measures of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Dolorfino said.

“I would like to emphasize that result of investigations are always classified documents… We cannot disclose classified documents to the public unless these documents are declassified by competent authority,” he said.

Dolorfino said keeping the investigation on the Basilan encounters under wraps was in no way related to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Administrative Order 197, issued two weeks ago, which ordered the military and the defense department to help Congress craft legislation to guard against the disclosure of “military secrets.”

Initial investigation by the Armed Forces Inspector General (IG) found that several mortars used by troops in the July 10 incident in Al-Barkah “misfired” or failed to launch, sparking a check of mortar rounds in the military inventory.

An investigation by the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) has recommended the filing of charges against over 130 suspects in the attack on the Marines in Al-Barkah.

The CCCH, chaired jointly by the government and the Moro Islamic
Liberation Front (MILF), has blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the beheadings, but did not explain why the Muslim extremists were with the MILF fighters, who owned up to the attack on the Marines after the troops allegedly encroached on their territory in Al-Barkah town.

The military also initially investigated allegations that air reinforcements had failed to support the Marines after they were given the wrong radio frequency to contact the ground troops.

Dolorfino said the inspector general and CCCH inquiries were enough and that “the public was made aware [of] what really happened.”

Dolorfino said the July 10 board had neither recommended action against three officers who were relieved over the incident nor sanctions against the other officers.

Relieved after the Al-Barkah incident were the commander of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 8, Lieutenant Colonel Felix
Almadrones; and his operations officer, Major Nestor Marcelino.

The commander of the First Marine Brigade, which includes all Marines in Basilan, Colonel Ramiro Alivio, was also relieved, but not until after the August 18 encounter.

Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Alivio was relieved for not being with his men during encounters.

“I think the mere fact that they were relieved from their post is enough for them to keep in shape,” he said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002007-10-17T07:05:07+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 17 Oct 2007 07:05:07 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

Posted in Uncategorized