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Archive for April 18th, 2008

Esperon will be ‘honored’ to serve as DND chief

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 20:43:00 04/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Military Chief General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said he would be “honored” to handle the defense portfolio, even as he acknowledged that talk of his replacing Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. was “purely speculative.”

“The matter of serving at the Cabinet is entirely the President’s prerogative so I would be honored but then I would not impose myself,” Esperon told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo Friday.

Asked if he would accept position of defense secretary if it was offered to him, Esperon said: “I’ll have to, if it calls for action, then I should act on that, as of now purely speculative. If there is no offer, I won’t even want to comment on that.”

Esperon, one of President Gloria Macapagal-Aroyo’s most loyal generals, will retire on May 9, when his three-month term extension expires.

Teodoro has served as defense secretary for nine months. He took over the department in August 2007.

Asked to comment on Teodoro’s statement that he would make a good defense secretary, Esperon said: “As far as I’m concerned he is one of the best.”

Esperon said remaining in government service after he retires from the military was an “option,” but he would like to visit his family abroad or go on vacation immediately after his retirement.

The military chief also said he would finish writing his book on counter-terrorism.

“That is part of our options, because 56 years old gives you a lot of time before you really want to be by yourself or before you are incapacitated,” he said. With Camille Diola, contributor

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002008-04-18T14:14:13+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Fri, 18 Apr 2008 14:14:13 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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‘Thank you for defending the Constitution’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:32:00 04/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo thanked active and retired generals from the military and the police for being “defenders” of the rule of law and the Constitution.

“Sa patuloy na pagtaguyod ng AGFO sa ating Saligang Batas at mga proseso ng batas, maraming salamat [For defending the Constitution and the rule of law, thank you, AGFO],” the President said in a speech.

Arroyo was the guest speaker at the annual fellowship meeting of the 800-strong Association of Generals and Flag Officers (AGFO), an organization of active and retired star-rank officers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The President, with the help of her loyal generals, has stared down at least three coup attempts in July 2003, February 2006, and November 2007, sparked by allegations of massive corruption and election fraud.

Earlier this year, rumors of another coup attempt swirled amid allegations that the President, her husband, Jose Miguel, and ex-elections commissioner Benjamin Abalos Sr. pocketed millions of dollars in kickbacks from the botched national broadband project.

“And so I thank you, our retired generals and flag officers, because you have supported the rule of law. Because you have supported the constitution, we were able to make the tough decisions to raise revenues for our economy,” Arroyo said.

The retired officers also “inspired” those in the active service in their campaign against communist insurgents and crime, she said.

The guests at the Tejeros Hall in Camp Aguinaldo included retired generals in the Arroyo Cabinet: Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, and Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

Retired generals holding government positions who were present at the affair include: Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) deputy general manager Angel Atutubo, Metro Rail Transit General Manager Roberto Lastimoso, and Visiting Forces Agreement Commission chief Edilberto Adan.

During her speech, Arroyo acknowledged former AFP chief Generoso Senga, the only chief of staff under her administration who was not given a government position after his retirement.

Senga was rumored to have wavered in her support for Arroyo during the alleged February 2006 coup attempt. Senga denied the allegation.

With Camille Diola, contributor

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002008-04-18T09:15:08+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Fri, 18 Apr 2008 09:15:08 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Arroyo taps military in rice distribution

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:08:00 04/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made cheap rice more accessible to soldiers by tapping commissaries in military camps to distribute government-subsidized rice from the National Food Authority (NFA).

On Friday, the President opened an NFA rice outlet at the Camp Aguinaldo, where it is sold at P18.00 per kilo, which is cheaper by P0.25 than the NFA rice sold outside military camps because of the additional tax subsidy in military commissaries.

The NFA rice will be sold to enlisted personnel, veterans, and their dependents, and not to officers who could afford the more expensive commercial rice, said General Hermogenes Esperon Jr., the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff.

“We are enlisting the Armed Forces to be an outlet for distributing this cheaper rice to the ordinary soldiers and their families who are after all the less privileged in our society,” the President said in a speech.

As she made her way to the stack of sacks of NFA rice at the commissary, the President told officials repeatedly that it should be made available to the enlisted personnel.

The outlet also sells cheap loaf bread and pan de sal called “Tinapay ng Bayan.”

The military has 32 commissaries in its camps nationwide, said Navy Captain Priscillano Ruiz, the general manager of the AFP commissary.

“All our outlets in the AFP commissary and exchange service system will now be used as the distribution outlets,” Esperon told reporters.

Demand for NFA rice increased after the price of commercial grain rose sharply, amid a global food crisis.

“Rice is a global issue and has deeply impacted the Philippines with the help of our armed forces and our policemen, as well as other policy makers and government officials we are taking strong swift decisive action to make sure it does not become a crisis,” Arroyo said.

“We are singularly focused on mitigating price to the best of our ability since the global situation became apparent many, many months ago,” she added.

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Written by joelguinto

Fri+00:002008-04-18T09:14:34+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Fri, 18 Apr 2008 09:14:34 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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