Palace insists Bangit’s closeness to GMA not ground for disqualification
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit’s closeness to President Arroyo does not disqualify him from being named Armed Forces chief, Malacañang said yesterday.
Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said Mrs. Arroyo chose Bangit as military chief based on his accomplishments and service record.
Olivar said that the personalities behind the Philippine Bar Association’s (PBA) petition seeking to void the appointments of Bangit, Army commander Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu and National Capital Region Command chief Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue must also be examined to determine their motives.
The PBA is represented by former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, “a well-known rabid critic of the President,” he added.
However, Olivar said Malacañang cannot do anything but take the petition at face value and let the people make their own judgment.
People know who are behind the petition against Bangit and can judge for themselves the real purpose of the petition, he added.
Marcelo is part of the CVC Law Firm or “The Firm,” which once had President Arroyo and her family among its biggest clients.
The Firm has since parted ways with Mrs. Arroyo after its partners opposed the move of the administration to support the people’s initiative to amend the Constitution.
Marcelo resigned as Ombudsman in 2005, citing health reasons, but it was widely speculated that there were other reasons behind his decision.
The PBA claimed in its petition that Mrs. Arroyo violated the constitutional ban on midnight appointments when she named the three military officials.
Marcelo to Palace: Admit mistake
Marcelo dared Malacañang yesterday to admit its “mistake” in naming Bangit, Mapagu and Angue to top military positions.
“Apparently, the Palace has been aware of this fatal defect in the promotion of Gen. Bangit and transfer of Mapagu and Angue,” he said.
“That is why they can’t answer legal questions raised in our petition. They should admit that they committed a very fatal legal mistake.”
They are considering asking the Supreme Court (SC) to hold a special session to resolve their petition, Marcelo said.
In their petition last Tuesday, the PBA assailed the promotions of Bangit as AFP chief, Mapagu as Army commander, and Angue as chief of the NCR Command.
Ocampo sues Bangit
Nacionalista Party (NP) senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo and party-list Bayan Muna have accused Bangit, Mapagu and Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales before the Comelec for allegedly engaging in partisan political activities.
In the complaint, Ocampo and Bayan Muna said the three violated the Omnibus Election Code when they abused their “official powers and functions… to do nationwide, organized, orchestrated and systematic acts clearly consisting and demonstrative of partisan political activity during the 2010 campaign period.”
They complainants said the respondents also allowed the use of public funds “within their offices’ budget for the attainment of this purpose, clearly constituting election offenses.”
Soldiers were behind “various black propaganda” against Ocampo and fellow NP senatorial candidate Liza Maza and other progressive party-list groups, according to the complaint.
The military, meantime, denied yesterday allegations that soldiers are campaigning against Bayan Muna. – Marvin Sy, Edu Punay, Sheila Crisostomo, Alexis Romero