Saturday, February 25, 2006

We will stop mass actions -- Senga

Senga says security situation starts to calm down
First posted 06:43pm (Mla time) Feb 25, 2006
By Joel Francis Guinto

MILITARY Chief General Generoso Senga said the security situation has started to calm down even as he gave marching orders to soldiers for the implementation of the state of national emergency.

While the only threat against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the coming days is street protests, Senga said he instructed military commanders to "maintain the level of vigilance at a significant level."

"Wala [None]," Senga told Camp Aguinaldo reporters, when asked if a serious threat to unseat Arroyo on allegations of electoral fraud still exists.

"There are planned mass actions which we should watch so we can take appropriate action, although the primary effort will come from the police," he said.

Senga also reiterated that the military remains steadfast to the chain of command and the Constitution.

Before dawn Friday, the military announced that it has foiled a plot to unseat Arroyo by pressuring Senga into withdrawing his support from her.

Army Brigadier General Danilo Lim was relieved as commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment and taken into custody while Marine Captain Ariel Querubin was placed under investigation over the alleged plot.

Before noon Friday, Arroyo declared a state of national emergency, citing a "clear and present danger" posed by the alliance between groups from the right and extreme left.

Senga said he issued guidelines to soldiers Saturday morning that even while Proclamation 1017 is in effect, the military "will adhere to the constitutional supremacy of civilian authority over the military at all times."

"First, we will help maintain public order, peace and safety, secure vital installations ensure the unhampered delivery of services, and stop mass actions," he said.

During the interview with reporters and in a radio interview with Vice President Noli De Castro, Senga inadvertently referred to Proclamation 1017 as Proclamation 1081, the martial law declaration signed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos on September 21, 1972.

Arroyo's critics had criticized the national emergency declaration as akin to martial law.

On Saturday, leftist lawmaker Crispin Beltran from the Anakpawis party-list was apprehended in Bulacan province over an arrest warrant for inciting to rebellion issued in October 1985.

Beltran's colleague, Bayan Muna party-list Representative Satur Ocampo, escaped arrest in Quezon City.

Before noon Saturday, Senga said he transferred custody of Lim to Army Chief Lieutenant General Hermogenes Esperon in Fort Bonifacio. He said investigators were determining what charges could be filed against Lim before a court martial.

Senga took custody of Lim following a meeting Friday evening for allegedly convincing him to join street protests and withdraw support from Arroyo.

The military chief said Lim claimed to have dissuaded other soldiers from joining the rallies but he was still restricted since according to intelligence reports, he and Querubin would commit "illegal acts."

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