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Archive for October 18th, 2007

AFP keeping tight watch on upscale Visayas resorts

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 01:40pm (Mla time) 10/18/2007

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines — The military is maintaining tight security on upscale resorts in the Visayas frequented by foreign tourists to thwart possible terrorist attacks and kidnappings, the military commander in the region said Thursday.

Navy ships continue to patrol the waters around Boracay Island in Aklan province and Panglao Island in Bohol. Security is also tight at posh resorts in Cebu province, the commercial center of the Visayas, said Major General Victor Ibrado, chief of the Armed Forces Central Command (Centcom).

While there is no imminent threat of terrorist strikes in his area of responsibility, Ibrado said his troops will remain vigilant.

“These places present a good terror target, but we don’t monitor any threat,” Ibrado told reporters at the Benito Ebuen Air Base here.

“Our troops are in the area, along with the navy and the police, we are really protecting the foreigners, they are well guarded,” he said.

Aside from the Navy patrol, a platoon from the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion is augmenting the police on Boracay, Ibrado said.

As for Panglao, Ibrado said it is within the area of the Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade, which is based in Carmen town.

Ibrado, however, said kidnappers would find it hard to strike in Boracay because it is densely populated.

“Boracay is densely populated, unlike Dos Palmas, which is isolated, it’s almost deserted when you get there,” Ibrado said, referring to the resort in Palawan province from where Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf extremists seized foreign and local tourists on May 27, 2001and held them for ransom.

Ibrado also said there is no imminent terrorist threat against Cebu City, where an alleged terror plot reportedly caused the postponement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in December 2006.

But troops are on guard for possible spillover attacks as the Abu Sayyaf tries to divert the military’s attention from pursuit operations against their leaders in the island provinces of Basilan and Sulu, where fighting since July 10 has so far left 62 soldiers and dozens of extremists killed.

To date, no spillover attacks have been reported outside of Western and Central Mindanao, where authorities suspect the Abu Sayyaf’s hand in several bombing incidents.

Ibrado said the communist New People’s Army (NPA) remains the most serious security threat in the Visayas.

While he declined to give an estimate of the NPA’s strength in his area, Ibrado said rebel strength has been going down and Centcom has so far dismantled two of the six guerilla fronts it has targeted before the year ends.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-10-18T05:46:01+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 18 Oct 2007 05:46:01 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Village chief, militiaman escape communist rebel captors

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 01:14pm (Mla time) 10/18/2007

MANILA, Philippines — A village chief and a militiaman held captive by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Compostela Valley province managed to escape when the rebels split up to evade pursuing government forces, an Army commander said Thursday.

However, a militia commander taken prisoner along with the two escapees during a rebel raid on a detachment in Montevista town last October 7 remains in captivity.

Barangay captain Glorieto Mahumas and Rudy Villaflor, a member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographic Unit (CAFGU), gave their NPA guards the slip Sunday evening but reached the home of Compostela Valley Representative Manuel Zamora only around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Brigadier General Carlos Holganza, chief of the 1001st Infantry Brigade said.

Holganza, in a phone interview, said CAFGU team Raul Reyes remains in rebel hands.

Quoting from, the account of Mahumas and Villaflor, Holganza said the three captives were separated when the estimated 30 NPA guerrillas holding them broke up into small groups to shake off pursuing troops.

“There was confusion [among the NPA]. Because they were overwhelmed by the government forces, they separated. We are still checking if they [Mahumas and Villaflor] were allowed to escape deliberately,” Holganza said in a phone interview.

“But one thing we can deduce is that the NPAs are harassed, that’s why they [captives] were able to escape,” he added, although he declined to reveal for tactical reasons how many troops were in pursuit of the rebels.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-10-18T05:26:35+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 18 Oct 2007 05:26:35 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Armed Forces to ‘stand behind’ Arroyo–defense chief

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
Last updated 12:11pm (Mla time) 10/18/2007

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will “stand behind” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. affirmed on Thursday, as he dismissed talk of grumblings within the ranks over bribery allegations against her.

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“She is the duly constituted President of the Republic, and the armed forces will stand behind duly-constituted authority, stand behind the President,” Teodoro told reporters at the Benito Ebuen Airbase here.

Teodoro was asked about a Palace statement on Wednesday evening, in which Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye expressed confidence in the loyalty of the AFP to the chain of command.

“I can say categorically that the Armed Forces is solid and united behind the chain of command and these political issues will not affect their duties and responsibilities,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro said the military remained focused on its mission to defeat the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and other rebel groups.

Asked what he would tell soldiers in the face of the bribery allegations, Teodoro said: “They know their duties, I don’t need to remind them of that.”

Several lawmakers and local government executives have admitted to receiving as much as P500,000 during a breakfast meeting hosted by the President at the Palace last week.

Critics see the cash gifts as a bribe to secure support for Arroyo, who is facing a fresh impeachment attempt over another bribery scandal, involving the government’s $329-million contract with China’s ZTE Corp., which was later cancelled.

Arroyo has tasked the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) to investigate the alleged bribery.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002007-10-18T05:25:41+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Thu, 18 Oct 2007 05:25:41 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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