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Palparan denies takeover of Zambales port

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:10:00 05/02/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan denied allegations that he led troops in a takeover of a port in Zambales province, as he tossed the blame on the regional Army commander.

Palparan said he was never in command of soldiers from the 24th
Infantry Battalion, whom he claimed was sent to the Masinloc Port in Masinloc town by Brigadier General Ralph Villanueva, the chief of the Army 7th Infantry Division operating in Central Luzon.

The retired officer said Faith Investment House (FIH), which requested his security agency to secure the port, had also asked Villanueva to send soldiers from the 24th IB to the area, amid reports that a 15-man “private armed group” was there.

“Ang sa akin, security lang talaga [I was in charge only of security]. I was not in command of that group,” Palparan told reporters in a phone interview on Friday.

“Incidental lang na nakialam ako sa plano [It is just incidental that
I interfered]. I just want to make sure everything will be okay,” he added.

Palparan said a certain Lieutenant Villena was commanding the 24th IB troopers “with the approval” of their battalion commander, Lieutenant
Colonel Philip Lapinid.

He said the soldiers were originally intended as a “blocking force” outside the foreclosed port, but eventually entered the facility to avoid being hit by the armed men, who were at an “advantage position.”

“I was happy that they [soldiers] were there. It gave some feeling of security. My men are only security guards,” he said.

Palparan claimed to have known that the 24th IB would secure the
Masinloc Port, only during a stop at the Subic Freeport, on his way to
Masinloc town. He said he brought five security guards armed with .45-caliber pistols.

Villanueva could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone. Calls to his superior were unreturned.

Palparan added that there was “no forced entry” by his men to the compound, adding they were let in by security guards of its “former owner.”

The retired officer said he welcomed an investigation by the Philippine Army on the incident.

“Of course, that’s okay, so that I will be able to explain my side. I did not do anything wrong,” he said.

But Palparan said Villanueva and Lapinid should be investigated as well for “assaulting” him and his men, when Villanueva was the one who allegedly deployed the soldiers there, upon the request of FIH.

Palparan and his men left the Masinloc site after they were driven out by police commandos.

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-05-02T07:56:06+00:00UTC05bUTCFri, 02 May 2008 07:56:06 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am05

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