Friday, May 04, 2007

AFP chief orders soldiers: Cheat for TU bets

The current political climate is worst than the fraudulent 2004 presidential election. It’s evident that the military leadership is directly involved in partisan politics. Eleven soldiers were arrested and one army corporal killed in a firefight with Cibac party-list supporters in Bulacan province. Soldiers were removing Cibac campaign before the shot-out. The military has no business in partisan politics except to vote. The military, police and election body Comelec will definitely cheats in declared election hotspots areas in favor of Gloria Arroyo candidates. Defense chief Ebdane and AFP chief Esperon were involved in 2004 presidential election vote-rigging in Mindanao Island.

SWS survey: 6 GO, 4 TU bets likely to enter ‘Magic 12’

AFP chief orders soldiers: Cheat for TU bets—Trillanes
Electoral cheating by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) may even be worse in May and more massive in areas where the military will be in control, compared to the electoral cheating in 2004 a detained Magdalo leader who is running for a Senate seat under the Genuine Opposition banner, yesterday said in an interview with Defense reporters held at his detention quarters.
In that interview, former Navy Lt./SG Antonio Trillanes IV bared that the AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. had already issued a radio message to ground troops to engage in electoral fraud to ensure a victory for President Arroyo’s Team Unity senatorial bets, who are all lagging behind in the senatorial race.
He disclosed that, like 2004, the cheating operations would be conducted in certain areas in Mindanao,” including the autonomous region.
This was an echo of the warning issued yesterday by a National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) chairman in Lanao del Sur who had blown the whistle in the Mindanao cheating operations of 2004, saying bloodshed could take its toll in Mindanao if the Arroyo government continues to ignore
requests for more police personnel.
According to Namfrel chair Abdullah Dalidig, bloodshed could mar the elections even as the local candidates and their private armies have now resorted to vote buying.
“The elections could be bloody,” Dalidig said yesterday, pointing out that the Comelec cannot enforce the gun ban.
He said that as early as three days ago the candidates were already on a “vote buying spree” with some candidates paying as much as P10,000 to P20,000 per voter.
“Everybody is spending millions to get the votes,” he stressed.
Dalidig also said that as in the 2004 elections, the big problem of the Namfrel in Mindanao is the issue of “double registrants” or “flying voters.”
He said there are at least 100,000 double registrants in Lanao del Sur alone.
This developed as Mon Casiple, convenor of Bantay Election 2007, said that the Comelec is laying the ground work for massive cheating during the election.
Casiple said among the tell-tale signs of these “cheating plan” is the deliberate failure of the poll body to release the voters list and the list of precincts, many of which have been grouped in clusters.
Casiple warned that as a result of this, many ghost precincts could be resurrected by the Comelec without the knowledge of the voters and other election officials at the precinct level.
He said ballot boxes from these ghost precincts could contain completely new sets of “prefabricated” certificates of canvass.
But it was a different type of cheating that Trillanes spoke of.
He said he was informed of this new order from Esperon to cheat for the TU candidates by his comrades in arms, adding that it will be the battallion commanders who will be surfacing to show the radio message issued by Esperon for the soldiers to cheat.
But military sources close to the Trillanes camp also yesterday told the Tribune that a copy of Esperon’s radio message to the ground troops will soon be exposed by a group of retired generals, as any active AFP officer surfacing before the public to denounce this military intervention in elections knows he will be soon be charged and detained on trumped-up charges.
The detained officer however said that the reason the battalion commanders leaked this radio message from Esperon to him was precisely to preempt the cheating operations and prevent the plan from proceeding.
The way the cheating plans go, as revealed by Trillanes, the TU 12-0 victory will be carried out in “areas under military control. That is the directive from the chief of staff and they (soldiers will obey it).
But there is some resistance from the officers and men, Trillanes explained, which is why the radio message was leaked.“They (battalion commanders) don’t want to be part of the cheating operations and they hope that by making this public, the plan to cheat won’t push through,” Trillanes said.
An item in the Magdalo blogsite also earlier carried another radio message purportedly from the Commanding General, Philippine Army, to all units, ordering them to tear down the posters of Trillanes.
Part of the message stated: “ITR, Destroy/remove all campaign posters of LTSG Trillanes that are posted near the unit bases under your command. This is to show the general public that the AFP is not supporting or endorsing the candidacy of subject officer.”
Trillanes, said to be one of the leaders of the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny who now faces a military court for mutiny and a civilian court for coup d’etat charges, said that with this new radio message from Esperon, what can be expected in May is “massive cheating” and even “more massive than 2004.”
Almost immediately, the Trillanes charge was quickly denied by the military public information chief, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro who challenged the Magdalo officer to bring out the evidence.
Bacarro said: “We challenge Trillanes to come up with evidence, to show that there is such a directive (from the chief of staff).”
He added that the allegation is serious, but doubted whether this could be substantiated by Trillanes.
The military sources said Baccaro may have to eat his words when the group of retired generals come up with the copy of the radio message from Esperon.
But others said that even with the evidence, this would be denied by the AFP leadership.
“If the Hello Garci tapes, which were already the proof that the AFP chief was involved in the 2004 cheating operations, was not taken as proof, and even Mayuga cleared him, what else can be expected?,” but they stressed that no matter the denials of the AFP, the copy of the radio message will be bared to the public.
Esperon was one of four military generals whose names were mentioned in the infamous “Hello Garci” tapes that detailed the conversations between President Arroyo and her cheating operator, former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, who is now running for a seat in Congress in a district in Bukidnon, Mindanao.
It is said that for his role in the 2004 cheating operations, Esperon was rewarded with the post of AFP chief of staff. Two other generals were also promoted. The only general who was not promoted and was, in fact, charged with a military violation for testifying before the Senate on the poll cheating operations was Marine Gen. Francisco Gudani, who has linked up with a poll watching group for the May elections.
Trillanes also told reporters that soldiers who will not follow the orders of Esperon to cheat would be facing charges.
But he predicted that the cheating may even be worse because there are more votes to add to the votes of the TU candidates.
He also said that while the soldiers who are ordered to cheat may do so, they may make the cheating so sloppy to be found out, adding that even with the order of Esperon, the military chief can’t be too sure of all of his soldiers.
But he also said that the Genuine Opposition will be given a copy of this radio message and will have to discuss this matter.
Meanwhile, the US Government, expressing concern over the escalating political violence, said it continues to hope for fair, clean and credible polls.
The US government is seriously considering monitoring the May 14 elections and is planning to field some of their officers from the US embassy in Manila as poll observers in various polling precincts.
In a chance interview in Malacañang , US ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney said the US government is concerned about the coming polls as it wants to ensure that these elections are credible and clean.
Kenney said they will dispatch some personnel from the US embassy to monitor the election.
“This is a country of peace and what we would hope for our friends, our Philippine colleagues, who live here would go for peaceful election, one that is transparent and fair, We would have some of our embassy folks go out to observe. They will be monitoring to see how the voting goes,” Kenney said.
Kenney said the US government is concerned about the country’s political violence and is hoping that it will not further escalate. “I’m watching the elections with interest, that’s a great time for people to exercise their democratic right and I think we’re all concerned when you see violence. Let the people express their views in the way our citizens would do it,” she said.
“ I don’t know any details. I think it’s always sad to see violence. I think, generally, this is a very peaceful country. People are compassionate and kind and I hope that spirit will carry on until election. It’s one thing to have differences of opinion, but that’s what democracy is all about,” she said. With Gerry Baldo, Sherwin C. Olaes and Tribune wires

Emerging police state under Arroyo government

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