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Archive for November 30th, 2007

11 killed, 13 wounded in Sulu clashes

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By Joel Guinto, Julie Alipala, Inquirer
Last updated 04:51pm (Mla time) 11/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Eleven soldiers, five from the Philippine Marines, and six from a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were killed in two encounters in the southern island province of Sulu at dawn Friday, the Marine commander there said.

Six government troopers were wounded and based on intelligence reports, seven other MNLF members were wounded, including their leader, Habier Malik, who was hit in the hand, said Colonel Cesario Atienza, chief of the 2nd Marine Brigade.

At around 5:20 a.m., a special operations platoon from the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT) 11, while on security patrol, encountered an estimated 30-50 MNLF rebels, supported by the Abu Sayyaf, in sitio (sub-village) Kupong, Pandan-Pandan village, Kalingalan Kaluang town, Atienza said in a phone interview.

Two MNLF rebels were killed and four Marines were wounded in the 30-minute encounter, Atienza said, adding several high-powered firearms were seized from the insurgents.

As the rebels retreated, they encountered reinforcement troops in Kambing village in the same town, sparking a 45-minute gun battle, Atienza said.

Five soldiers were killed and two others were wounded in the said firefight, he said.

Four rebels were killed, two identified as Gamhir Abdul Halik, Malik’s right-hand man, and Madang Bayrola.

Malik leads a faction of the MNLF that is calling for the release of their chairman, Nur Misuari, who is under house arrest on rebellion charges over a 2001 uprising in Sulu.

Originally posted at 2:11pm

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002007-11-30T09:29:49+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Fri, 30 Nov 2007 09:29:49 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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AFP, PNP not discounting continuing threats

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Close to 1,000 troops beef up Metro forces

By Joel Guinto, Thea Alberto
Last updated 04:20pm (Mla time) 11/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) are not discounting the possibility of continued threats to the government notwithstanding the suppression of an attempted uprising by a group of rebel solders led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV Thursday.

Close to 1,000 Army soldiers, including US-trained counter-terrorism troops have been sent to Metro Manila, as the Armed Forces remained on red alert a day after an attempted uprising by rebel soldiers who took over a Makati City hotel, chief of staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

Philippine National Police Director General Avelino Razon said they believe there are still groups planning to launch more destabilization efforts.

Razon said at least three other teams of rebel soldiers, believed aligned with Trillanes, remain at large, aside from other fugitives like Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, who he described as “armed and dangerous.”

The PNP chief said documents recovered at the Manila Peninsula hotel, where Trillanes and his group holed out as they called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down, showed that the destabilization plots remain “active.”

Although he refused to say what the papers contained, he said they indicated that the Makati standoff and the Bonifacio Day rallies on Friday were connected.

“Active pa yun [plots]…dahil supposed to be yung ginawa kahapon [because what happened yesterday] is connected with today’s activities,” added Razon, referring to the rallies being held by left-leaning groups at Manila.

However, Razon said the police are still investigating the possible links of activist groups to Trillanes.

He also confirmed reports that residents of Tondo, Manila, had been recruited for P200 to join a rally in support of Trillanes.

The 48th Infantry Battalion and the Light Reaction Battalion (LRB) will augment the 3,000-strong AFP-National Capital Region Command (AFP-NCRCom). An infantry battalion is composed of some 500 troops, elite battalions, like the LRB are smaller in size.

“We are not discounting anything that is why we are on red alert. That’s why we have contingency forces,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We want to have all the options just in case there are other scenarios that will develop. Don’t be worried because these are all intended to quell similar moves as what Trillanes and Lim have done, which is [a] plain and simple power grab,” he added.

At the same time, Esperon said the military “preempted” the movement of another group of officers and men who were allegedly part of Trillanes’ and Lim’s plan to form a “new government” in place of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Esperon refused to identify the group, but he said: “It could have been a major source of embarrassment and major threat if they were able to do it.”

Asked if the said officers and men have been restricted, Esperon hinted that they could have been in detention even before the Thursday incident.

Asked if he was referring to Lim’s fellow detainees at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province, Esperon said, “Sort of,” then looking east, towards Rizal, he said: “I’m looking there now.”

He said the group that failed to move and the one that occupied the Manila Peninsula hotel were among four groups, composed mainly of members of the Magdalo group of mutineers, who were planning to unseat Arroyo.

The group, including Trillanes, was behind the short-lived mutiny in July 2003 during which they occupied the Oakwood luxury apartments, just a short distance across Ayala Avenue from the Peninsula.

Taking a swipe at the rebels, Esperon said: “These messianic people think they are the solution to the country’s problems when they can’t even solve problems in their own units.”

Blasting Lim, he said: “He probably wants to celebrate National Heroes Day and think he is a hero. He is not.”

Lim’s group is facing mutiny charges before a court martial for their alleged roles in a purported coup plot in February 2006.

The former commander of the elite Army Scout Rangers, Lim was a witness at the coup hearing of Trillanes and 30 other alleged leaders of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny. Lim and the accused officers walked out of a hearing at the Makati City regional trial court late Thursday morning and marched to the Manila Peninsula.

Esperon said security at the Tanay detention center had been beefed up after the hotel standoff.

The military chief said there was no need for a loyalty check within military ranks in the wake of the standoff.

“We are solid…You do not really have to check on loyalties,” he said.

Esperon also justified the force used to end the standoff. Marines, Navy forces and police commandos stormed the hotel and crashed a tank through its front doors and into the lobby.

“We went for a quick decision. I think it was the only way, I must say, of doing it — quick and decisive,” he sad.

Esperon said the military is offering to pay for the damages sustained by the hotel.

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002007-11-30T08:47:16+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Fri, 30 Nov 2007 08:47:16 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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Manhunt on for 3 rebel officers, soldier in Makati standoff

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By Joel Guinto, Thea Alberto
Last updated 01:12pm (Mla time) 11/30/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) A manhunt is on for three rebel officers and a soldier over Thursday’s siege at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City, military and police officials said Friday.

Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon, who was believed to have been with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, managed to evade arrest when the standoff ended Thursday night, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

“We are looking for him. The manhunt is on,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

In a separate interview, Philippine National Police Chief Avelino Razon said that aside from Faeldon, two other rebel officers and a soldier were unaccounted for.

“There are four at large but we believe there are more than that,” Razon told a press conference Friday.

Faeldon was seen at the Manila Peninsula, which was taken over for six hours by his fellow rebel soldiers led by former Navy Lieutenant and now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim.

But on Friday morning, police officials said Faeldon was “unaccounted for.”

While Faeldon was not considered as a threat to government, Esperon said he was capable of doing “foolish things.”

Razon said Faeldon allegedly pretended to be a member of the media and escaped through the service bay.

Razon said the two other rebel officers and another soldier, whom he did not name, also escaped by wearing a wig as disguise.

Faeldon escaped in late December 2005, and in his more than a month as a fugitive, launched a civil disobedience campaign in cyberspace to pressure President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down.

Faledon and Trillanes were also among the alleged leaders of a shortlived mutiny in July 2003.

They were in a hearing Thursday before the Makati regional trial court on the coup d’etat case filed against them as a result of the 2003 uprising when they and their co-accused staged a walkout and led a protest march around the city’s streets before settling at the Manila Peninsula.

Originally posted at 12:38pm

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002007-11-30T08:46:07+00:00+00:0011b+00:00Fri, 30 Nov 2007 08:46:07 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am11

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