Palace hands off on Villar’s violation in military camp
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Friday that it would leave it to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) whether to take action against Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manuel Villar for alleged illegal campaigning for its detained senatorial candidate in the military camp.
“Let’s leave it to the commander of the camp, where it took place,” deputy presidential spokesperson Charito Planas told reporters in Malacañang.
Planas said Malacañang will not step into the incident since it involves alleged violations of military regulations.
Villar, for his part, said there was nothing wrong in visiting NP senatorial candidate, detained Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, in Camp Aguinaldo.
Querubin is facing court martial for mutiny and other similar charges for his role in the alleged attempt to overthrow the Arroyo administration in February 2006.
The NP standard-bearer, his running mate, Sen. Loren Legarda, and other NP senatorial candidates went to the highly-restricted compound of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) on Thursday morning.
AFP: Unity walk violated agreement
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner said Villar’s group violated an agreement that they would not conduct any form of campaigning inside the highly-restricted military compound.
Brawner said Villar’s party appeared to have violated the agreement because some NP candidates brought vehicles with campaign posters.
After meeting Querubin, Villar’s group locked arms and made a “unity walk” a few meters outside the ISAFP compound. The senatorial candidates who joined the short walk were Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Adel Tamano, Pia Cayetano, Liza Maza, Gwen Pimentel and Susan Ople.
Villar and Legarda then raised Querubin’s arms as reporters took photos. Villar and Querubin both wore orange polo shirts, while Legarda was clad in white long sleeves.
Brawner said the unity walk violated standing regulations of the military banning any political activity in all its camps. He said that while Villar and his party were allowed to visit Querubin, the AFP warned the NP not to campaign inside the camp.
“Our officers at ISAFP tried to prevent [the unity walk] because it could have constituted something more than just the permission that was given to them. What happened was they [Villar’s group] had their pictures taken and the ISAFP [personnel] could not prevent the media from taking pictures,” said Brawner.
He said that AFP chief of staff Gen. Victor Ibrado has warned Villar not to repeat such an incident.