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Army probing troops with Palparan in Zambales port takeover

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 16:01:00 05/01/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Army is investigating soldiers from the 24th Infantry Battalion following reports that retired major general Jovito Palparan led them in taking over a port in Zambales province, a military spokesman said Thursday.

But the Armed Forces could not immediately take action against Palparan since it lost jurisdiction over the controversial general when he retired in September 2006, Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro said.

“If ever these soldiers would be found out to have been directly involved in the allegations, of course, they will be subjected to investigation and they shall be dealt with accordingly,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Asked what actions the military could take against Palparan, Bacarro said: “We don’t have any jurisdiction over the actions that he has taken. We can only assume that the establishment would take legal action.”

According to news reports, Palparan led armed men in a takeover of the Masinloc seaport in Masinloc town after a Manila-based firm hired him to secure the area last Tuesday. They were driven away by police commandos.

“The Philippine Army has issued a statement on the matter, that general Palparan is already retired, and in a way, has no jurisdiction or any authority to direct our soldiers,” Bacarro said.

The Army investigation will determine what really happened at the Masinloc seaport and whether or not troops from the 24th IB could be held liable under military laws, the spokesman said.

Brigadier General Ralph Villanueva, the chief of the 7th Infantry Division, which operates in Central Luzon, has been tapped to lead the investigation, Bacarro said.

Palparan was chief of the 7th ID before he retired. During his stint there, and in earlier assignments, he was hounded by allegations, from both local and international human rights groups, of ordering the murder and forced disappearance of left-wing activists.

On Tuesday, officials of a mining company based in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan, charged Palparan and 16 others with robbery, grave coercion and serious illegal detention for allegedly taking over the firm’s mine site last April 12.

Justo Cabrera, vice president for business development of Ore Asia Mining and Development Corp. (OAMDC), and six security guards of the firm filed separate charges against Palparan at the Bulacan prosecutor’s office here.

Charged with Palparan were Lieutenant Colonel Col. Pederito Santos; Arturo Mercader, president of Oro Development Mining Corp. (Odeco II); Romy Santiago, barangay (village) chair of Pulong Sampaloc in Doña Remedios; and 13 others, most of them Army soldiers.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-05-01T08:17:12+00:00UTC05bUTCThu, 01 May 2008 08:17:12 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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