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PSG checked before Bolante arrival

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But it’s a ‘regular inspection’–security chief

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 12:13:00 10/28/2008

MANILA, Philippines — It was a “regular inspection” of at least a dozen armored vehicles and troops in full battle gear at the Presidential Security Group compound in Malacañang, except that the head of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s security chose to do it hours before a controversial and former government official was expected to come home.

“This is just a regular inspection,” Brigadier General Celedonio Boquiren said, adding that in the military, Saturday inspections were routine, but in his case, he performed the inspection on Tuesday due to schedule constraints.

Boquiren inspected at least a dozen armored vehicles and troops in full battle gear from the 11th Mechanized Infantry Company at the PSG Compound.

Brigadier General Ernesto Cutiyog, the number two man of the Philippine Army’s Light Armor Division, assisted Boquiren during the

On Tuesday evening, former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante, who is accused of funneling P728 million in fertilizer funds to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign kitty in 2004, is expected to return to the country.

The House of Representatives is scheduled next week to hear another impeachment complaint against the President, this time based on the alleged overprice of the botched $329-million national broadband network agreement.

Past impeachment attempts since 2005 have been struck down by the pro-Arroyo majority in the House.

Asked if there was an imminent threat to the safety of the President, Boquiren said: “Wala naman [There’s none]. This inspection is just part of our efforts to make sure that our personnel and our equipment are in top condition.”

“I would give the troops a very, very satisfactory rating… We are ready to secure the President,” Boquiren said, noting that the armored vehicles were newly-repaired and well-maintained.

Boquiren clarified that the PSG inspection was not related to the political developments. “It does not have anything to do with the current situation,” he said.

In the coming days, the PSG chief said he would check other units, including the police Special Action Force (SAF) and Special Reaction Unit (SRU), the Naval Special Operations Group (NAVSOG), and the Presidential Airlift Wing.

But Boquiren was evasive when asked if Bolante’s homecoming and the new impeachment complaint would affect the security situation, saying, “The important thing is that, as a commander, I would like to ensure that our troops and our equipment are in top condition.”

Past controversies involving the President have sparked massive street protests, which last peaked in January, when ex-government consultant Rodolfo Lozada exposed the alleged overprice of the government’s NBN project with China’s ZTE Corp.

In mid-2005, the leak of purported wiretapped conversations between the President and ex-elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over alleged plans to rig the 2004 election in her favor also sparked a wave of street protests.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-10-28T07:56:35+00:00UTC10bUTCTue, 28 Oct 2008 07:56:35 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am10

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