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Archive for April 16th, 2008

Esperon will make good defense chief, says Teodoro

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:41:00 04/16/2008

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the outgoing Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. would make a good defense chief, as he conceded Cabinet appointments are the President’s prerogative.

Teodoro was reacting to reports he would be moved to the Department of Justice to give way to Esperon, one of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s most loyal generals, who retires May 9.

“I don’t have any reason to doubt that he would, he has experience in the job, he knows what needs to be done. That’s it, it’s the President’s choice,” Teodoro said, when asked if Esperon would make a good defense secretary.

Teodoro said he was not affected by his rumored transfer to another Cabinet agency, and a shake-up, if ever, would not derail reforms at the Department of National Defense (DND).

“That’s part of things that you have to expect when you work in the Cabinet, that there will be such kind of talk, leaks rumors. You just don’t get affected and continue your work,” he told reporters here.

“What were trying to do now is to institutionalize the reforms, you know the PDR [Philippine Defense Reform] program is going full steam ahead, I don’t think any talk like this will derail that, because I remain focused and committed what we have to do,” he said.

Asked if he was inclined to take on a different Cabinet portfolio, Teodoro said: “I won’t comment any further…”

Teodoro assumed the defense portfolio in mid-2007. He replaced Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., a former national police chief, who returned to his old post at the Department of Public Works and Highways.

He is the second civilian appointed as defense secretary under the Arroyo administration, in accordance with the recommendation of the Feliciano Comission, a Palace-formed body that investigated a short-lived mutiny in Makati City in July 2003.

In 2004, Arroyo appointed lawyer Avelino Cruz Jr. as defense secretary. Cruz resigned in November 2006 amid rumors of infighting within the Cabinet.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez, served as acting defense secretary, in the lull between Ebdane’s exit and Teodoro’s entry to the department.

“It is the President’s choice, the Feliciano report is merely a recommendation and it is up to the President whether or not to take that recommendation given a certain circumstance,” Teodoro said.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-04-16T12:25:45+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Wed, 16 Apr 2008 12:25:45 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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Power quake simulated in Subic to gauge gov’t response

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:43:00 04/16/2008

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — (UPDATE) The Philippines is prepared to respond to a powerful earthquake, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said, after disaster officials simulated a strong one here on Wednesday.

Organized by the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), this year’s International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Asia Pacific earthquake simulation exercise was the biggest ever, with 270 participants from 18 countries and 52 organizations, Glen Rabonza of the Office of Civil Defense Administration said.

The simulation involved a 7.2-magnitude earthquake caused by the movement of the Marikina faultline, which was projected to damage an estimated 38 percent of 1.3 million structures in Metro Manila, Rabonza said.

“Institutionally, we are well prepared to handle any situation and the main purpose of this exercise actually is to integrate help also coming from international communities because it creates sometimes a logistical problem to coordinate all these efforts,” Teodoro told reporters on the second day of the three-day INSARAG.

“On this end we are refining those protocols, the procedures we have to undertake. We will process donors,” said Teodoro, also chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

“I asked also the NDCC to give us a checklist of what to do at our level in case something happens, and we will practice these scenarios constantly, we will refine them,” he said.

The movement of the Marikina fault last caused an earthquake with a magnitude of close to 7.0 about 200 years ago, said Philippine Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum.

The last four times that the fault moved happened between intervals of 200-400 years, said Solidum.

But despite the apparent pattern, Solidum said science could not predict when an earthquake would happen.

Solidum said that an earthquake’s magnitude was different from its intensity. Magnitude is the earthquake’s strength from undergound, while intensity is the measure of how it is felt on the surface.

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake can produce as much as intensity 9. The intensity weakens the deeper the earth’s the tremor is, he said.

Among others, the drill measured the response time of disaster officials coming from the airport. The Subic Bay international airport was used in the drill, Rabonza said.

Teodoro said he was also informed during the simulation that the first 96 hours after a building collapse was critical in saving human lives.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-04-16T12:25:01+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Wed, 16 Apr 2008 12:25:01 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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‘That’s not him,’ says lawyer on Faeldon’s TV interview

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:15:00 04/16/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (2nd UPDATE) It was not Marine Captain Nicanor Faeldon talking in an interview that was aired on television on Tuesday evening, his lawyer said.

“That’s not him. That’s not his style,” said lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles, who represents the fugitive rebel officer in civilian and court martial cases.

At the same time, Angeles said the voice clip could be part of a ploy by the military to force Faeldon out of hiding.

“They are trying to flush him out,” Angeles said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Angeles said her client could be forced to grant an interview to deny the voice clip aired on ABS-CBN, giving troops the chance to arrest him.

“Many strange things are happening when officials are about to retire. It looks like intelligence operatives are looking for a retirement gift,” she said.

“After the nine Magdalo [officers], Captain Faeldon is definitely a prize,” she said, referring to the band of rebel troops that briefly took over the Oakwood Apartments in Makati City on July 27, 2003.

In an interview with reporters at the Subic Bay Freeport, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. denied Angeles’ claim.

“No, the government is not baiting him [Faeldon] to come out, the government is looking for him to arrest him,” Teodoro said.

The defense chief said the military has not furnished him a report on the purported Faeldon voice tape.

The interview was aired on ABS-CBN. In it, Faeldon supposedly expressed disappointment in the decision of nine of his fellow rebel soldiers to plead guilty for coup d’etat before the Makati regional trial court and seek presidential pardon.

Faeldon also purportedly criticized Senator Gregorio Honasan for siding with the Arroyo administration.

Honasan was charged with coup d’etat, along with Faeldon and 28 other junior officers over the 2003 siege, to protest alleged corruption in government.

The charges against Honasan were dropped.

Angeles said Faeldon also never criticized fellow rebel soldiers who had changed their pleas.

She added that the voice did not sound like that of her client.

“When did Captain Faeldon have a Visayan accent?” Angeles said in jest.

The lawyer added that it was unlikely for a fugitive to say that he was going in and out of Metro Manila, as the voice in the tape claimed.

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Written by joelguinto

Wed+00:002008-04-16T12:24:06+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Wed, 16 Apr 2008 12:24:06 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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