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AFP chief: Despite threats, Arroyo safe

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 18:04:00 03/17/2008

CAMP JOHN HAY, Baguio City — Even as threats to her life remain, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be secure when she attends the graduation rites of the Philippine Military Academy here on Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff said.

“What we have beefed up is security for the whole graduation rites,” General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said, adding security forces would also be posted along the President’s route, aside from the PMA grounds in Fort del Pilar.

Asked if there was a threat against the President during the graduation on Tuesday, Esperon said: “We are looking at one group. I have always looked at that group ever since I was a Presidential Security Group commander.”

Esperon declined to name the group for “operational purposes.” When pressed if the group was planning to assassinate Arroyo, he said: “Doing that, harming the President.”

The military chief said the threat was not new.

“When you’re a president there will always be threats…You have to fight the enemies of the state, therefore these enemies of the state will always try to get back at you,” he said.

Last February 15, Arroyo cancelled her appearance at the academy’s homecoming parade here at the last minute due to an alleged plot by the Al Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) to assassinate her.

Asked about the alleged JI threat, Esperon said authorities were not letting their guards down even with the arrests since February of three foreigners with alleged links to the Al Qaeda.

Esperon said “there is no second chance” in securing the Chief Executive.

“We always make sure that appropriate, sufficient security [is given] to the President. It is always assumed that there are threats,” he said.

“You cannot relax on that. You can’t say that the threat has decreased, [there’s] no such thing,” he said.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-03-18T02:22:24+00:00UTC03bUTCTue, 18 Mar 2008 02:22:24 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am03

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