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Archive for April 28th, 2008

No power grab threat on May 1 — security officials

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 18:34:00 04/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — There are no threats of destabilization or a repeat of the bloody siege in Malacañang when militant groups take to the streets for the traditional Labor Day rallies on Thursday, police and military officials said.

Police will meet with rally organizers in Manila on Tuesday morning to hammer out security arrangements for the rallies, said Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).

At least 2,000 anti-riot policemen, with augmentation from the military, will secure the protests, initially planned at the Plaza Miranda, Mehan Garden, and Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila, and the Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City, Barias told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

“There’s none, if you are referring to People Power 3, [the] May 1 siege. We have not received any information regarding that matter,” Barias said.

“But we are always prepared,” said Barias counterpart in the military, Major General Fernando Mesa, the chief of the National Capital Region Command (NCRCom).

On May 1, 2001, hundreds of loyalists of deposed president Joseph Estrada stormed the Malacañang gates, three months after a military-backed popular revolt thrust Estrada’s then vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, to power.

Earlier this year, huge protests were staged in the Makati financial district and in Manila to press for Arroyo’s ouster amid allegations she pocketed millions of dollars in kickbacks from the botched national broadband project along with her husband, Jose Miguel, and former elections chief Benjamin Abalos Sr.

Officials were on alert amid reports that the rallies would be used as a springboard for a power grab attempt, and that communist rebels were planning to disrupt the protests.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-28T13:16:28+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 28 Apr 2008 13:16:28 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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Arrest order out vs ex-Basilan gov., 3 others in House blast

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By Tetch Torres, Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:40:00 04/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Arrest warrants have been issued by a local court against former Basilan Representative Gerry Salapuddin and three others over last year’s explosion at the Congress building where at least seven people, including a lawmaker, were killed.

In his order, Branch 83 Judge Ralph S. Lee of the Quezon City regional trial court ordered the arrest of Salapuddin, Police Officer 1 Bayan Judda, Hajarun Jamiri and Benjamin Hataman.

The four are facing multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges, non-bailable offenses.

The arraignment of all the accused will be on Wednesday. Another hearing will be held Tuesday on Salapuddin’s motion to quash the arrest warrant.

Killed in the blast on Nov. 13, 2007 were Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar, Salapuddin’s political opponent; Marcial Taldo, driver of Gabriela Partylist Representative Luzviminda Ilagan; Akbar’s staff Julasiri Niki Huyudini; and House employee Maan Gale Bustalino.

Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office Chief Geary Barias said he has yet to receive a copy of the order but said that their units would serve the warrant.

Asked how police would arrest Salapuddin, considering his position,
Barias said: “Being a former governor and congressman, I believe they [suspects] might as well present themselves to authorities.”

“The best advice would be for them to surrender and present themselves before the courts,” Barias told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-28T08:57:04+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 28 Apr 2008 08:57:04 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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AFP insists Jonas Burgos not with them

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:27:00 04/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday maintained that it was not involved in the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, exactly one year after the son of the late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” Burgos Jr. went missing.

“We have been saying or stating even before that Jonas Burgos is not under the custody of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” AFP spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro told reporters.

Burgos’ mother, Edita, is holding troops from the 56th Infantry Battalion based in Bulacan province responsible for her son’s disappearance. This after the license plate on the vehicle of his alleged abductors was traced to an impounded vehicle at the battalion’s headquarters in Norzagaray town.

On April 28, 2007, “military-looking” men allegedly took Burgos while he was eating at a fastfood outlet in a Quezon City mall. An agriculturist by profession, Burgos was working as a consultant for the left-wing Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines), when he was abducted.

Bacarro said the military would continue cooperating in hearings at the Court of Appeals on a petition for habeas corpus filed by Burgos’ mother.

“We have military officers that are scheduled to appear, they will attend the court hearings…Let’s wait for a resolution through the legal processes,” Bacarro said.

The former commanding general of the Philippine Army, retired lieutenant general Romeo Tolentino, testified in a recent hearing. The license plate on a back-up vehicle used by Burgos’ alleged abductors was traced to a staff car detailed to Tolentino’s office.

In an interview with reporters in July 2007, Tolentino said Burgos could be a member of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), though he could not say whether his affiliation was a factor in his disappearance.

Bacarro could not confirm if a military investigation on the Burgos case has produced results.

“That’s very operational. I’m not privy to the developments. [The inquiry is] in the field of intelligence, I’m not privy to any information,” he said.

When pressed by reporters, Bacarro said the Jonas case was being used by “some groups” to link the military to extrajudicial killings and disappearances of left-wing activists.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-28T08:56:22+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 28 Apr 2008 08:56:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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Informant vs Abu Sayyaf suspect gets P500,000 reward

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:04:00 04/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Authorities awarded P500,000 to an informant who led them to neutralize a suspected Abu Sayyaf explosives expert in Quezon City in November 2007.

The informant, who wore a leather jacket and a black ski mask over his face, received the cash from Director Geary Barias, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), and Major General Fernando Mesa, commander of the military’s National Capital Region Command (NCRCom), in Camp Aguinaldo on Monday.

The suspect, Alpaker Said, alias Abu Jandal, was killed in a shootout after authorities swooped down on a bandit lair in the Payatas district last November 16.

Said, an alleged Abu Sayyaf explosives expert, was reportedly involved in the November 13 bomb attack on the House of Representatives that killed Basilan Representative Wahab Akbar and five other persons, Barias said.

Several others, including two solons, were wounded.

Former Basilan representative Gerry Salapuddin, Akbar’s political rival, and several others have been charged for the bombing.

Said also had a standing warrant for kidnapping and serious illegal detention, Barias said.

“He [tipster] led us to the hideout of [Said’s] group,” Mesa said, without elaborating on the informant’s identity due to security reasons.

Asked what Said’s role in the November 13 attack was, Barias said: “We can only at this time speculate if he provided technology to the group or if he rigged the bomb himself.”

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002008-04-28T08:55:33+00:00+00:0004b+00:00Mon, 28 Apr 2008 08:55:33 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am04

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