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Archive for October 24th, 2007

School kids send support to frontline troops

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 04:23pm (Mla time) 10/24/2007

MANILA, Philippines — “Enclosed is P20, to help in your food,” third grader Lukina Latequista said in a letter to soldiers in the battlefield.

Latequista is one of over 1,000 students from the Assumption College of Iloilo who expressed their support for soldiers in the frontlines through letters, poems, and for some, a portion of their allowance.

Adelino Bermejo, a preparatory school student, sent P13 — two P5 coins and three P1 coins — with her letter. Some students sent P20, P50, and P100 bills.

The letters, written on colorful stationery and dated September 11, were delivered to Camp Aguinaldo with 1,500 light blue rosaries, which the children said soldiers in the battlefield should keep in their pockets, said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro.

Bacarro said the letters would be photocopied and sent to field troops, especially those battling extremists in Sulu and Basilan.

The soldiers will be asked to reply to the children. Armed Forces chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. was also drafting his reply, the spokesman said.

“It is really heartwarming on the part of the soldiers to receive this,” the military spokesman told reporters, as he sifted through the box of letters. “These letters will be sent to the field to boost the morale of our soldiers.”

Bacarro could not immediately say why the students wrote the letters or if it was part of a school assignment.

“Thank you for protecting, implementing our laws, and helping the Philippine government and fighting terrorism,” Latequista said.

“I salute you for leaving everything behind to fight for us…I wish this war could end peacefully, although many have died,” said Regina Johanna Justilo.

“Ang isang sundalong katulad mo ay aking hinahangaan. Tinitingala kita., nirerespeto. Lahat ng iyong mga sakripisyo para sa bansa ay nagbigay inspirasyon, [I admire a soldier like you. I look up to you, respect you. All your sacrifices for the nation inspire me],” said Vanda Alborka.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002007-10-24T09:08:14+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 24 Oct 2007 09:08:14 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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AFP chief declassifies report sought by Burgos family

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 02:34pm (Mla time) 10/24/2007

MANILA, Philippines — After months of hedging, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said Wednesday he has declassified a military report on a missing license plate linked to the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos and will present it to the courts.

“I have declassified the report and so I’m ready to present that to the competent court,” Esperon said in an interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel.

The Court of Appeals, which is hearing a petition for habeas corpus filed by the Burgos family, has ordered the release of the AFP Provost Marshall’s report on how the license plate TAB-194, which was on a vehicle impounded at the 56th Infantry Battalion’s (IB) headquarters in Norzagaray town, Bulacan province, went missing.

Witnesses said the license plate was on one of the vehicles used by the abductors of Burgos, son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr., who was forcibly taken from a Quezon City mall on April 28. Investigators later traced the plate to the impounded vehicle at the Army camp.

Explaining why he finally decided to release the report, Esperon said: “I thought [of doing it] for the sake of upholding and protecting human rights.”

He acknowledged that his months-long refusal to make the Provost Marshall’s report public had been “interpreted as blocking the rights” of Burgos’ family.

The family, which has openly accused the military of abducting Jonas, said Esperon’s refusal to release the report proved the AFP was covering up for the involvement of soldiers.

Three battalion commanders have been reprimanded over alleged lapses that led to the loss of the plate: ex-56th IB chief Lieutenant Colonel Noel Clement, his successor, Lieutenant Colonel Melquaides Feliciano, and 69th IB chief Lieutenant Colonel Edison Caga.

The plate was allegedly lost sometime between November 2006, when Clement and his men were pulled out of headquarters for retraining, and early 2007, when he was replaced by Feliciano.

Caga watched over the camp in the interim.

Burgos’ mother, Edita, has blamed the 56th IB for the disappearance of her son, who worked as a consultant for the Bulacan provincial chapter of the left-wing Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines).

“What we can say is, we are not involved in the abduction, but we are not ruling out anything,” Esperon said.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002007-10-24T07:12:23+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 24 Oct 2007 07:12:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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Esperon: ‘Magdalo, not me, intended to harm civilians’

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 02:23pm (Mla time) 10/24/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said it was the Magdalo group of detained Senator Antonio Trillanes that had the “intent to harm” civilians when they booby-trapped the posh Oakwood serviced apartments during a short-lived uprising in 2003.

Esperon was reacting to Trillanes’ insistence that the military chief and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales were the brains behind the supposed bombing of the Glorietta 2 shopping mall in the Makati financial district Friday.

The mall is located in the same complex as the Oakwood Premiere, which has been renamed the Ascott Makati.

“We have forces capable of doing that, but why will we be doing that when we should be protecting the people?” Esperon said in an interview over the ABS-CBN News Channel.

“Who planted bombs in that area in 2003? At least we did not have the intent to do harm,” Esperon said.

Trillanes has said he would provide evidence on his claim only before an “independent” investigative body. He has refused to fully cooperate with investigators from the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

“Coming from such a biased politician, I’m not surprised at all [at Trillanes’ allegation],” the military chief said.

Trillanes is detained while on trial before civilian and military courts for the so-called Oakwood mutiny. He was considered resigned from his post as Navy lieutenant when he filed his certificate of candidacy for the May 14 elections.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002007-10-24T07:11:53+00:00+00:0010b+00:00Wed, 24 Oct 2007 07:11:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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