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Archive for December 2007

Propaganda assaults vs communists paying off, says AFP

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:14:00 12/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military’s propaganda and humanitarian efforts have resulted in the weakened mass support for communist insurgents throughout the country, officials said Monday.

Proof of which is the leftwing groups’ failure to muster large crowds in anti-government protests, said Colonel Buenaventura Pascual, chief of the Army Civil Military Operations (CMO) battalion.

Militant labor unions have also contributed less to communist campaigns in urban centers, he said.

Some 500 troops from the Army CMO battalion have been deployed to urban poor communities in Manila, Quezon City, Taguig City, and Marikina City for lectures and civic projects.

Outside Metro Manila, Special Operations Teams (SOT) have gained the trust of locals, who have tipped off troops on positions New People’s Army guerillas and convinced some rebels to surrender, said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., spokesman for the Philippine Army.

Like the CMO battalion in the capital, SOT troops teach locals about the “evils” of communism. The soldiers, who don’t engage in combat, also help in community-building projects, Torres said.

The military had 307 SOT operations in rebel-influenced villages this year, according to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) year-end report.

“The efforts of our SOT are paying off. They have gained the sympathy of the people who lead them to rebels who want to surrender,” Torres said in a phone interview.

“We’ve made a big impact. We’ve cut off the flow of logistics to the NPA in the provinces. The people have become more aware of the evils of communism,” Pascual said in a separate phone interview.

According to the AFP year-end report for 2007, the NPA had an estimated 6,000 fighters, down from over 7,000 in 2006. Troops dismantled 13 NPA guerilla fronts, leaving the rebels with 87 fronts.

“The enemy’s influence in the affected barangays as well as in the political arena suffered a marked reduction for this year as compared to last year,” the AFP report said.

“Overall, AFP efforts have continuously effected the weakening of the enemy’s politico-military capability, nationwide,” it said.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave security forces a 2010 deadline to crush the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The same deadline applies to the campaign against the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf.

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Mon+00:002007-12-31T15:10:39+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Mon, 31 Dec 2007 15:10:39 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm12

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Abu Sayyaf strength continues to decline — military

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:39pm (Mla time) 12/31/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Intensified military operations in the south have caused the number of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf to dwindle further in 2007, according to the year-end report of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

At the end of the year, the Abu Sayyaf had 379, down 16 percent from 452 in 2006. The military attributed the decline to “Oplan Ultimatim,” its combat-heavy battle plan against the extremists. Malacanang has set a 2010 deadline for government forces to defeat threat groups including Islamic extremists and communist rebels.

The AFP said 144 Abu Sayyaf members were “neutralized” in 2007, of which, 67 were killed, 75 were captured or apprehended, while two surrendered.

The fatalities include the extremist group’s second-in-command, Jainal Antel Sali alias Abu Solaiman, who was killed in after elite Army Special Forces assaulted an Abu Sayyaf camp on Mt. Dajo in Talipao town, Sulu province last January.

By the middle of the year, the military shifted to “Oplan Ultimatim 2,” wherein combat operations were downscaled in favor of humanitarian projects, in an attempt to deny the extremists civilian support.

But even as bandit strength was down, the Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels also dealt a big blow to government forces.

On July 10, a combined force of the extremists and the Moro rebels ambushed a Marine convoy in Ginanta village, Al-Barkah town, Basilan province, leaving 14 Marines killed, 10 of whom were beheaded.

On August 18, an assault by Marine troops on an Abu Sayyaf camp in Silangkom village, Ungkaya Pukan town left 15 Marines killed.

According to the AFP year-end report, there were 53 encounters between troops and the Abu Sayyaf, of which 41 were initiated by the military while 12 were initiated by the Muslim extremists.

The encounters also resulted to the recovery of 29 high-powered and 20 low-powered firearms.

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Mon+00:002007-12-31T05:10:53+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Mon, 31 Dec 2007 05:10:53 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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Lim to be moved back to Camp Crame, says military spokesman

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 19:17:00 12/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim, who is facing civilian and military court proceedings over the November 29 standoff in Makati City, will be moved back to police headquarters in Camp Crame from military general headquarters, a spokesman for the Armed Forces said.

This after the Makati City regional trial court branch 150 approved on Friday the general’s motion to be returned to the Camp Crame custodial center from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) compound in Camp Aguinaldo.

The transfer would be made on Saturday or Sunday, said Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, AFP public information office chief.

“We will comply with the order of the court,” Bacarro said.

On Wednesday, Lim was moved to Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province, where he had been detained since 2006 over an alleged coup plot in February of that year, from Camp Crame, where he has been detained since after the November 29 siege by rebel soldiers on the Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati City.

Lim sought the transfer so he could prepare for court martial proceedings over the 2006 incident, which are being held in Camp Capinpin.

But on Thursday, the military transferred him to ISAFP to make him face the Provost Marshal investigation into the hotel siege, which would determine whether or not he could be court martialled.

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Fri+00:002007-12-28T14:53:25+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Fri, 28 Dec 2007 14:53:25 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm12

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New PNP spokesman named

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By Joel Guinto

First Posted 04:37pm (Mla time) 12/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will have a new spokesman starting Monday, the incumbent said Friday.

Chief Superintendent Samuel Pagdilao Jr., said he would be replaced by
Senior Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome as chief of the PNP public information office (PIO).

Bartolome is the current provincial police commander for Tarlac. He served as PIO during the term of Senator Panfilo Lacson who was PNP chief from late 1999 to 2001.

Pagdilao said he would be transferred as deputy chief of the police regional office (PRO) 6 in the Western Visayas.

He said he would formally relinquish his post to Bartolome on Monday morning at the Camp Crame national police headquarters.

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Fri+00:002007-12-28T08:48:05+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Fri, 28 Dec 2007 08:48:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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Military fails to meet ‘07 target for dismantling NPA fronts

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 04:26pm (Mla time) 12/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Preoccupied with securing two elections, the military dismantled only 13 guerilla fronts in 2007, short of the target of 20 fronts, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice chief of staff said Friday.

To make up for the setback, Lieutenant General Antonio Romero said the military would “work double time” to destroy half of the remaining 87 guerilla fronts of the New People’s Army (NPA).

For the first quarter of 2008 alone, the military aims to destroy 17 guerilla fronts that are in the “advanced stages of degradation,” according to the military’s year-end report for 2007.

Romero also said that the military was on track to meet its 2010 target of defeating the NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said NPA strength was down to 6,000 by the end of 2007, and would be further reduced to an “inconsequential” 3,000 by 2009.

“We have to work double time, because our operations were hampered by elections for the Senate and local officials, and then we also had the barangay [village] and national elections,” he told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

The mid-term elections for senator, congressman, and local executive positions were held in May. The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections followed in October.

“We would not have elections next year so we could focus more on the campaign against the NPA,” he said.

Troops were tapped to secure hotly-contested areas, but were barred from performing election duties such as handling election materials, in keeping with a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the military, defense department, and the Commission on Elections.

The MoA was an offshoot of allegations that the military was used to help rig the 2004 national elections in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s favor.

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Fri+00:002007-12-28T08:47:16+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Fri, 28 Dec 2007 08:47:16 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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5 Army men in 2006 coup discharged

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 02:56pm (Mla time) 12/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Five elite Army enlisted men detained for over a year over their involvement in the alleged February 2006 coup plot were dishonorably discharged from the service, a spokesman for the Philippine Army said Friday.

Nine other detained enlisted men, also linked to the failed uprising, were reprimanded and would be reinstated into active duty status, said Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr.

The five discharged soldiers were picked up from Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province at around 1 p.m. They will be brought to Army general headquarters in Fort Bonifacio for processing before they could be freed, Torres told reporters.

The Philippine Army chief, Lieutenant General Alexander Yano, ordered the discharge and the reprimand on the suspected coup plotters upon the recommendation of military investigators, Torres said.

But Torres could not immediately elaborate on the findings of military investigators that had led to the discharge and reprimand.

The discharge was effective on December 25, Christmas Day, but was released only on Friday, Torres said.

“The nine had a different participation [in the alleged coup], compared to the five, who were left in Tanay,” he said.

“The nine were reprimanded and will be brought back to the service,” he said.

With the reprimand, the nine have been disqualified for promotions and schooling privileges for a year, the spokesman said.

The 14 enlisted men were among 40 soldiers who were detained for over a year in Camp Capinpin, without proper charges, over the alleged plan to withdraw support from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Feb. 24, 2006.

Brigadier General Danilo Lim, ex-chief of the Scout Rangers, allegedly hatched the plot, with Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin. They are among 28 officers facing court martial for mutiny.

Last October 31, Yano ordered the discharge of 26 of the 40, after finding “preponderance of evidence” that they violated Articles of War 67 (mutiny) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline).

On November 1, nine of the remaining soldiers were brought to the Intelligence Service Group (ISG) compound in Fort Bonifacio, leaving five troopers in Camp Capinpin.

Originally posted at 02:57 pm

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Fri+00:002007-12-28T08:46:44+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Fri, 28 Dec 2007 08:46:44 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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Troops warned vs indiscriminate firing of guns on New Year

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:05:00 12/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The military leadership has warned soldiers against firing their guns indiscriminately during the New Year revelries, or face stiff penalties, including dismissal from the service.

Lieutenant General Antonio Romero, Armed Forces vice chief of staff, issued the directive on Friday, as he led the sealing the muzzles of service firearms with masking tape at the Camp Aguinaldo grandstand.

“Our firearms should only be used against armed enemies of the state.
To avoid unnecessary loss of life, we must not fire our guns in welcoming the New Year,” Romero told reporters.

“Those who would violate the directive would be punished accordingly for indiscriminate firing,” he added.

Soldiers reported to have fired their guns during the New Year celebrations will be investigated, and if found guilty, will be penalized.

The firearms of soldiers in the field were also sealed with tape, and signed by their commanders. The seals will be checked after the New Year, Romero said.

“When a gun is fired in the air, the bullet falls at the same speed as it exits the barrel,” Romero explained.

Instead of firing guns in the air, Romero said soldiers were better off practicing their shooting skills in the military’s firing ranges.

A fireworks display will also be staged in Camp Aguinaldo on New Year’s Eve, Romero said.

“Our firing ranges are open to those who would wish to fire their guns during the New Year. However, they should bring their permits to carry,” he said.

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Fri+00:002007-12-28T08:46:02+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Fri, 28 Dec 2007 08:46:02 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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Police stop 100 Marines in ‘authorized’ movement in Cavite

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Case of ‘miscoordination,’ says Marines chief

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 11:12:00 12/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Some 100 Marines on board seven six by six trucks were stopped by police in Bacoor town, Cavite province, due to a “miscoordination,” officials said.

The troops, all students of the Marine Basic Airborne Course, were on their way to their Fort Bonifacio headquarters from the Marine Base in Ternate town, Cavite province when they were stopped at around 9:50 a.m., said Major General Ben Dolorfino, Marine Corps Commandant.

The police that stopped the soldiers were not informed of their movement, which was approved by general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Dolorfino told reporters.

“It was a miscoordination. They were stopped only briefly,” Dolorfino said.

Lieutenant Colonel Ariel Caculitan, Philippine Navy spokesman, said the movement of the troops reached only the regional police headquarters, not the Cavite provincial headquarters.

“It was an authorized troop movement,” he said.

From Fort Bonifacio, the Marines will proceed to Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province for the airborne portion of their course, Caculitan said.

Twenty-seven policemen, who are taking the same course, were stopped together with the Marines, he added.

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Thu+00:002007-12-27T07:45:36+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Thu, 27 Dec 2007 07:45:36 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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Brig. Gen. Lim didn’t participate in Provost Marshal probe

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Pending rebellion case might be prejudiced–lawyer

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 10:12:00 12/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 2) Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim refused to cooperate in the Armed Forces Provost Marshal’s investigation into the November 29 standoff in Makati City so as not to “prejudice” the case filed before a civilian court over the same incident, his lawyer said Thursday.

“We did not participate in the investigation because of the pending case in [the] Makati court, considering the subject matter of the investigation now is the subject matter of the criminal case for rebellion… That would unduly prejudice General Lim,” Vicente Verdadero told reporters.

Lim’s move, however, would not stop the military’s investigation, since other witnesses could be summoned, said Colonel Arthur Abadilla, the Provost Marshal General.

Lim, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, and other military personnel who joined six-hour siege at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati have been charged with rebellion before Branch 150 of the Makati RTC. Their arraignment is set on January 15.

The former chief of the First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) arrived at the Provost Marshal office in Camp Aguinaldo under heavy guard at around 9:30 a.m. He came from Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province where he is being detained.

Lim, in civilian clothes, was accompanied by wife, Aloysia, and his lawyer, Vicente Verdadero. He did not answer questions from reporters.

After the proceedings, Lim was brought to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) inside the same camp, where he would be detained temporarily until the Provost Marshal inquiry finishes.

Abadilla acknowledged that it was Lim’s right not to answer questions from military investigators.

“[But] it does not prevent the Provost Marshal and the AFP to pursue the case against him because he has waived his right,” Abadilla told reporters.

Abadilla said he would soon summon other active duty officers involved in the case, as well as their security escorts.

Lim is being investigated for possible violation of Articles of War 96 (conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman), 97 (neglect prejudicial to good order and military discipline), 70 (breach of arrest), 67 (mutiny or sedition), 63 (disrespect toward the President) and 64 (disrespect toward a superior officer).

On November 29, Lim joined over a dozen rebel junior officers in a walkout on their coup d’etat hearing at Branch 148 of the Makati regional trial court.

Lim was a witness for the defense against the rebel officers, including Trillanes, then a Navy Lieutenant, who staged a shortlived uprising on July 27, 2003, also in Makati City.

Lim is also facing court martial, along with 27 other Scout Rangers and Marine officers, over the alleged February 2006 coup plot.

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Thu+00:002007-12-27T07:44:23+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Thu, 27 Dec 2007 07:44:23 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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Brig. Gen. Lim to be moved to ISAFP–military spokesman

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 10:56am (Mla time) 12/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim, a suspect in the Nov. 29, 2007 and February 2006 uprising, will be transferred to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines compound in Camp Aguinaldo from Camp Capinpin in Rizal province this Wednesday, the deputy military spokesman said.

AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. ordered the transfer upon recommendation of the AFP Provost Marshal to make Lim available when it would investigate whether he and other rebel soldiers could be charged before a military court over the November 29 standoff in Makati City, Major Ramon Zagala said.

Zagala said Lim’s stay at ISAFP was only temporary. He will be transferred this Wednesday, a few hours after he was moved from Camp Crame detention facility to Camp Capinpin.

Lim’s transfer to Camp Capinpin earlier in the day was made on his request, his lawyer Vicente Verdadero said.

The hearings on the mutiny case in relation to the February 2006 coup, where Lim is one of 28 accused Army Scout Ranger and Marine officers, is held in Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, about a three-hour drive from Manila.

“The transfer was kept under wraps for security reasons. I called up the [Camp Crame] custodial center and they told me that General Lim left at around 8 a.m.,” Verdadero said in a phone interview.

“Basically, the transfer was made upon our request. We expect the court martial hearings to be held every Friday [starting January],” he added.

Lim was detained in Camp Crame after he joined the Magdalo group, a band of rebel officers and soldiers, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in a six-hour siege on the Manila Peninsula Hotel on November 29 to press for Arroyo’s ouster on corruption allegations. Lim and the Magdalo rebels face rebellion charges over the Makati incident.

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Wed+00:002007-12-26T09:40:48+00:00+00:0012b+00:00Wed, 26 Dec 2007 09:40:48 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am12

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