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troung
07 Jul 06,, 23:15
http://www.tribune.net.ph/headlines/20060707hed1.html


Marines abolition mulled
By Angie M. Rosales

07/07/2006


It’s not just the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that President Arroyo wants merged as one Armed Forces. She and her loyal generals are also reportedly planning to do away with the Marines as a service unit of the AFP.

This idea of “abolishing” the Marines, considered to be the military’s elite arm but whose members have proved to be a headache to Mrs Arroyo, as they have become more daring in testifying against the President on charges of massive poll fraud and other anomalies, was said to have been brought up during a recent National Security Council (NSC) technical group meeting, presided over by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, a member of the council being the chairman of the Senate national defense and security committee, has, however, remained tight-lipped on this piece of information.

But he noted during the weekly breakfast forum in the Senate that this information is what is now spreading among the Marine corps, supported by the recent events, such as the cases involving former Marines chief Renato Miranda, Orlando de Leon and Ariel Querubin removals and the many Marines officers being targeted for court martial as shown by the leakage on the AFP investigation report by the Inspector General recommending court martial proceedings for First

Scout Ranger Regiment Gen. Danilo Lim and 37 others all the more bolstered this allegation.

But the senators’ remarks bolstered speculations of the Marines “abolition,” noting the recommendations made in the purported IG report effectively calling the removal not only of the ranking officers but even that of the general staff of the Philippines or J1 down to J8 that composes the entire personnel.

“It is going to decapitate the Marines. And what is the effect of this to that organization?” he stressed during the Kapihan sa Senado, referring to the IG recommendation.

Sought for confirmation on alleged plan to abolish of the Marines, Biazon instead gave this meaningful reply: “If I were the decision-makers, I would study that very well. A unit that had been relied upon in the past (by every administration in this country) will just be treated that way, I don’t know what the effect will be. We can only speculate and I dare not speculate because the consequences could be serious.”

The senator said indeed there exist dissatisfied ranks in the Marines, dismayed elements who now strongly believe that the government wants to disband them.

“In the first place, if there is no dissatisfaction in the rank-and-file, all of these will not happen. And remember that the causes of those moves, of those events that can only be referred to as instability, the root causes, are not yet resolved.”

Allegedly, some groups within the Marines, which Biazon had commanded in the past, began to entertain the notion after the AFP investigation report on the Feb. 24 aborted coup and the Feb. 26 Fort Bonifacio standoff recommended court martial for virtually the entire top Marines in the hierarchy.

“Now what we do not know is the extent of (restiveness) of this group. The only problem is, like a volcano, you do not know the degree of pressure from below that could cause an explosion. Even science cannot predict now much is pressure building up below.

But if there is such plan to disband the Marines, the senator said he would caution against disbanding a unit that had been relied so much in the past, saying the consequences would be dire.

More than the Army’s Scout Rangers, the Marines have proved to be a headache for the administration because some of its officers have dared to speak up on the alleged election cheating, especially on charges that some of their ranks were used to rig the 2004 elections, to the dismay of the proud Marine corps.

Biazon also pointed out that there there seems to be no evidence to support an allegation of coup d’etat, mutiny, or inciting to sedition against Lim, some top officers of the Marines, including former colleague, Sen. Gregorio Honasan who had been implicated in the alleged February botched coup, that led him to go into hiding.

In lieu of Biazon’s observations, former Senate Minority Leader Vicente Sotto III yesterday called on the government to lift the arrest warrant and bounty on Honasan and allow a preliminary investigation as clearly, indications show that the former lawmaker was never involved in the aborted “coup.”

Sotto III said it is high time that the petition filed by Honasan’s lawyers for a preliminary investigation be granted by the Department of Justice.

In a related development, pouncing on a newspaper report that had a former Middle East Philippine Ambassador, Roy Señeres, naming several personalities he claimed were involved in working on Lim to withdraw support from the President, Malacañang yesterday disclosed it has a long list of the civilian supporters of the general, adding that they are now the subject of surveillance operations by the intelligence community.

The Palace also called for the filing of inciting to sedition charges against Señeres who admitted his involvement in the alleged coup.

Seneres later claimed that even as he identified the alleged civilian supporters, such as former Executive Secretaries Gen. Renato de Villa and Oscar Orbos, businessmen Iñigo Zobel and Antonio Cojuangco and FF Cruz, he admitted he has no personal knowledge of their alleged involvement.

The persons identified by Señeres have denied the former ambassador’s allegations.

But Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the civilian supporters of Lim mentioned in the long list were being monitored to determine their role in the matter.

“What we have is classified information,” intimating that the names were already in the list the Palace had. “We will not reveal yet the identity of those in the list because we don’t want to embarrass them since the authorities are still conducting a follow-up on this,” he said.

Both Ermita and presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor, however, called on the DoJ to file inciting to sedition charges against Señeres, claiming that his admission of involvement in the alleged coup is strong enough to prosecute him.

Defensor pointed out that Señeres, in enjoining all the citizens who have teamed up with General Lim are all within the group involved in the attempted coup d’etat and that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez need not go into an investigation “because Ambassador Señeres has openly come out saying all these things and appropriate charges will be filed and possibly an arrest will be effected.”

The Palace officials, however, doubted Señeres’ implication of other alleged civilian supporters of Lim.

Ermita said Señeres could be name-dropping so his propaganda against the government would earn publicity.

On the personalities implicated by Señeres. Defensor said only De Villa could have some participation in the discovered coup plan last February.

“There is really a monitoring of General De Villa, I know that he was going around and talking to people. On the other names floated by Señeres, we don’t have any information,” Defensor said.

Investigators meanwhile have been tasked by the DoJ to look into the possible criminal liability of individuals who the Palace suspects conspired with General Lim.

Gonzalez said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is under orders to find conclusive proof against them.

Defensor said the NBI will be inviting Cojuangco and other persons whom Seneres named in the newspaper report.

Gonzalez directed lawyer Reynaldo Esmeralda, head of NBI special task force, to follow up on the lead provided by Señeres.

“I ordered NBI to investigate all the persons mentioned by Seneres. I want this investigation to embrace all these incidents. Seneres said he was the one who instigated..it’s inciting to sedition. If it succeeds it’s a patriotic act, but if it not, it’s a crime,” Gonzalez said.

The Justice secretary said Lim can no longer deny his role in the plot to oust the President with the release of the video showing Lim and several similarly clad military officers declaring their withdrawal of support from the administration.

“I think he will be crazy to deny the tape, I don’t think he will deny the tape, even the voice clip there will tell you it is Lim talking,” he added.

Gonzalez advised Lim to just cooperate with the NBI by disclosing the names of the financiers and his co-conspirators in the plot to topple the Arroyo government although this would not mean the dropping of charges against him.

He said it is not likely that Lim could turn state witness because it appears he is not the least guilty. However he noted that Lim’s testimony is important in identifying the rest of the individuals who allegedly withdrew support.

“Maybe they can be identified if Lim will cooperate. Definitely one of them is a Col. Caringal, his name came out his nameplate. So we don’t need to ID anyone anymore,” adding, “If (Lim) cooperates, it means he will give us details, who are the people supporting him, who are his financiers, who are his co-conspirators. That’s the reason I wanted to talk to (Time correspondent Nellie) Sindayen because she wrote a story but the details were not there,” he added.

The NBI has again invited for questioning Lim and Caringal at 10 am today to shed light on the video footage.

Although some of those plotting to overthrow the Arroyo government have already been identified, Gonzalez said the threat against the government is still present.

“They are just underground. They are probably planning their counter moves. Snakes do not always attack, they wait for time,” he said. With Sherwin C. Olaes and Benjamin B. Pulta

troung
07 Jul 06,, 23:17
http://www.philstar.com/philstar/NEWS200607080407.htm

AFP chief: No plan to abolish Marines

By Jaime Laude
The Philippine Star 07/08/2006

Armed Forces chief Gen. Generoso Senga assured his troops yesterday that the Philippine Marines Corps will remain an integral part of the military.

"There is no proposal in the AFP to abolish the Marines," he said.

"The Marines is a very big part of the Armed Forces. We are not thinking of anything like that at all. It will always be a part of the Armed Forces."

Senga denied newspaper reports that a proposal was being studied to abolish the Marine Corps.

"Actually, what we are discussing is the implementation of what is called the Fleet-Marine concept, especially in the island provinces in Southern Philippines to make the operations of the Navy fleet and Philippine Marines more efficient," he said.

Senga said the Fleet-Marine concept involves the deployment of Marines and Navy personnel to Mindanao.

The program would incorporate the battalion excellence program of the Marines, he added.

Senga said under this program, Army infantry and Marine Battalion Landing Teams would be trained jointly.

"We will provide them with new equipment and other materials that they will need so that they (can) better perform their missions and duties," he said.

Rumors that the Marines would be dismantled, allegedly due to discontent among certain officers who have been linked to coup plots, have already triggered some discontent among the Corps.

One officer said if the Marines were to be abolished, and its functions shifted to its mother unit, the Navy, he would choose to resign from the service.

His sentiments are apparently shared by other Marine officers.

In Zamboanga City, Lt. Col. Archiles Segumalian, 2nd Marine Battalion commander, said yesterday that deactivating the Marine Corps will not solve the problem of restiveness within the Armed Forces.

Segumalian, who was involved in the recent standoff at the Philippine Marine Corps headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, said instead of abolishing the Corps, the military brass should charge all those suspected of trying to overthrow the government.

"If they found there are some officials who are involved in the destabilization then they should punish those whom they believe to be erring officials and soldiers, but not the unit," he said.

Segumalian is listed among the 38 officers of the Marines and Army Scout Rangers, among them former Marine Commandant Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, Col. Ariel Querrubin, erstwhile Scout Ranger commander Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim and 27 enlisted personnel, in the investigation document leaked to the media.

Instead of dismantling the Marine Corps, he said, "I am ready to face court-martial if they find me to have joined any destabilization plot."

Segumalian and the 2nd Marine Battalion took over security in Tawi-Tawi last Friday.

Meanwhile, Armed Forces deputy chief of staff Lt. Gen. Christie Datu said yesterday that the Marines "will not be removed" amid reports that the National Security Council (NSC) is "discussing" the possibility.

In an interview yesterday, Datu said the Armed Forces would be "crippled" without the Marines which he described as "the most disciplined" branch of the military.

"The Marines is a unit under the Navy which has proven itself as a force multiplier in the insurgency problem and in the secessionist (movement) in Mindanao," he said.

"We will be crippled (without the Marines). They are trained and professional soldiers with much experience."

In Congress yesterday, two pro-administration lawmakers denounced reports that the Marine Corps might be abolished.

House Deputy Minority Leader Antonio Cerilles and Malabon-Navotas Rep. Federico Sandoval said the reports aim to demoralize the officers and men of the Armed Forces and make them susceptible to provocation from political adventurers.

"Generals come and go, but the rank and file of our Marines have remained professional in their duty to protect our people," said Cerilles.

"We appeal to those spreading disinformation and playing mind games with AFP officers: please spare the people from further anxiety and restlessness.

"For that matter, politicians should leave our men and women in uniform out of politics. They are not meant to be pawns for us in a power grab, but should remain the professional guardians of Philippine democracy," said Sandoval. — With Roel Pareño, Ding Cervantes