Feliciano Angue

Palace insists Bangit's closeness to GMA not ground for disqualification

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

SC asked to void Bangit appointment

SC asked to void Bangit appointment
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the alleged “midnight appointment” of Armed Forces Chief Gen. Delfin Bangit as well as those of two other top military officials.

Marcelo, who has turned into a critic of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said Bangit’s appointment was unconstitutional and illegal since the constitutional prohibition against midnight appointments took effect on the day of his appointment, March 10.

He also questioned the appointment of Army Commander Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu on March 12 and of Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue as chief of the Armed Forces National Capital Region Command (NCRCom) on March 13.

The three belong to the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1978 which has adopted Ms Arroyo as an honorary member.

Marcelo suspects that the appointment of Bangit and his two classmates in sensitive positions was part of a plot to manipulate the election results and set the stage for a failure of elections so Ms Arroyo can continue to govern as a holdover president beyond the end of her term on June 30.

In a petition he filed Tuesday for the Philippine Bar Association (PBA), Marcelo said the three permanent appointments were prohibited under Section 15 Article VII of the Constitution which bans appointments two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of an outgoing president’s term.

Marcelo, who is the PBA president, said the start of the two-month period covered by the ban fell on March 10.

Bangit, who served Ms Arroyo as chief of the Presidential Security Group and aide-de-camp when she was still vice president, replaced Gen. Victor Ibrado who retired on March 10.

Marcelo said the press statement from the Armed Forces stated that Bangit replaced Ibrado only after the latter’s retirement, which was midnight of March 10.

He said the AFP vice chief of staff could have served as acting chief of staff until a new one is appointed by the new president who assumes office on June 30.

He also pointed out the appointments violated the Commission on Elections’ rules that prohibited the transfer of government personnel during the election period from Jan. 10, 2010 to June 9, 2010 without prior written authority from the Comelec. Dona Z. Pazzibugan

Bishop voices fears over troop movements in Metro

Bishop voices fears over troop movements in Metro

A senior Catholic bishop voiced concerns Friday about plans by the military to deploy troops and conduct patrols in Metro Manila ahead of the May 10 elections.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez Jr. said this plan may be part of a looming worst-case election scenario.

“This troop movement is ominous. This is scary. I fear that there planning something sinister,” Iñiguez said in an article on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) news site.

Iñiguez heads the CBCP’s public affairs commission.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Metro Manila command earlier revealed the plan to position soldiers in streets and critical areas in the Metropolis.

Metro Manila Command head Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue said they were also deploying at least two battalions of “peacekeeping troops” as part of intensified security operations for the polls.

Among the areas in their list to be patrolled is Makati City, which the police have recommended placed under their control due to reported election-related violence.

Armed Forces chief of staff Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit clarified that the planned movement of troops is in support to the security concerns raised by the police.

Bangit and Angue are both members of the controversial Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class 1978, of which President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is an adopted member. — LBG, GMANews.TV

JDV questions 'midnight promotion' of Lomibao

JDV questions ‘midnight promotion’ of Lomibao
By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) senatorial candidate Jose “Joey” de Venecia III yesterday denounced the “midnight promotion” of former Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Arturo Lomibao as defense undersecretary for legislative affairs.

De Venecia said the new appointment was an obvious lateral shift in the wake of Lomibao’s involvement in the radio frequency identification (RFID) sticker scheme that was ordered suspended by the Supreme Court.

“Malacañang should put a stop to its continuing issuance of midnight appointments well beyond the last day allowed by law for an outgoing President to appoint government officials before the May 10 elections,” De Venecia said.

De Venecia, the son of former House speaker Pangasinan Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., said it was deplorable for Lomibao to be promoted despite his failure to comply with the SC directive to compensate the motorists who paid for the inoperative RFID program.

He said the belated announcement of Lomibao’s new appointment further triggered suspicions that midnight appointments are being backdated to make it appear Mrs. Arroyo made the appointments before the period of the ban.

“(She) staffs key offices with her own men before the next legitimately mandated president takes office,” he said.

De Venecia called on Malacañang to immediately recall the appointment of Lomibao along with the other appointees after the deadline.

“Why Malacañang continues to ignore this ruling should disturb us all. It’s as if Mrs. Arroyo has become a law unto herself,” he said.

Possible successors

Three flag officers are emerging as possible successors of Navy chief Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez who will retire on May 16.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said National Capital Region Command chief Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence Rear Admiral Victor Martir, and Western Mindanao Naval Forces chief Rear Admiral Alexander Pama are among the candidates for the post.

They are two-star ranked officers.

A Navy rear admiral is equivalent to the Army’s major general.

Two of the three contenders, Angue and Martir, belong to Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class ’78 of which President Arroyo is an honorary member. Pama, on the other hand, belongs to Class ’79.

Arevalo said all the contenders are capable of leading the Navy and have adequate experience.

“All of them are competent to lead our Navy. All of them have passed through several levels of command. They have gone through billets, or what we call the shipboard billet and offshore billet, which means experiences in both land and in sea,” Arevalo said.

He said the three have strong qualifications and impeccable military record.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Delfin Bangit said the Board of Generals (BOG) could not convene to discuss Golez’s successor unless it has received the recommendation of the Navy’s Board of Senior Officers.

The BOG is composed of the AFP chief of staff as head, with the vice chief of staff, the deputy chief and the commanders of the four major services.

Arevalo said the Navy is hoping that the next chief would continue the programs initiated by Golez.

“Vice Admiral Golez steadied the course and speed of the Navy’s pursuit of its Sail Plan 2020. The attainment of our vision of becoming a strong and credible Navy that our maritime nation can be proud of by 2020 remains to be every sailor’s and Marine’s dream,” he said.

A member of PMA class ’76, Golez is the remaining major service commander in the AFP who is not from class ’78. The other major service commanders are Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena and Army chief Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu.

Arevalo earlier said Golez had already made farewell visits to naval forces in Cebu and Palawan and had called on his counterparts in Singapore and Thailand.

He said the Navy chief made a farewell call on his troops in Northern Luzon last week. – With Alexis Romero

Army chief: There’s no Oplan ‘August Moon’

Army chief: There’s no Oplan ‘August Moon’
By Jonas Cabiles Soltes, Inquirer Southern Luzon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

CAMP ELIAS ANGELES, PILI, Camarines Sur—Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu Thursday dismissed speculation that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was mobilizing loyal generals under a military operation called “August Moon” to extend her term.

“There is no such thing as Oplan August Moon,” said the newly appointed Army chief of Ms Arroyo’s purported plan to put members of his Philippine Military Academy Class of 1978 in key military and police positions to keep her in office.

“We do not talk about it in the camps. In fact, I was shocked when the issue came out,” Mapagu said during a visit here to award medals of merit and promote soldiers for outstanding duty in the counterinsurgency campaign in the Bicol region.

The appointments of Mapagu and that of Gen. Delfin Bangit as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have drawn criticism amid concern about preparations for the country’s first automated balloting on May 10 and the possibility of a failure of elections.

What’s there to question?

The two generals belong to PMA Class of 1978, which adopted Ms Arroyo as an honorary member. Another classmate, Rear Adm. Feliciano Angue, was likewise recently named chief of the National Capital Region Command.

Their promotions were made just before the constitutional ban on presidential appointments took effect on March 10 to last until the end of Ms Arroyo’s term in June.

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command, on Tuesday said officers were not applauding the appointment of Mapagu but stressed that they were not also questioning the President’s prerogative to appoint trusted officers to key posts.

“I would not put malice to his statement. I have very high regard for him. I do not see any controversy with his statement. The President has decided. I respect her decision. What’s there to question?” Mapagu said.

“He is a very good and professional soldier. I know because I was his division commander in the Eastern Mindanao Command.”

Just lucky

Mapagu said that the pool of generals from which Ms Arroyo selected the Army chief was filled with qualified persons. “I was just lucky I was the one chosen by the President,” he said.

Mapagu said his new position was not a reward for loyalty.

“I did not reach this rank because of President Arroyo. I rose from the ranks through my own merit. I started as a second lieutenant and I earned my stars. My record will speak for itself,” he said.

He said Ferrer’s grumbling did not affect the chain of command. “The Philippine Army remains intact.”

Mapagu said that not all members of Class ’78 were being promoted. “There are those who are not.”

He said he had not received any illegal orders and that he would never follow one. He also warned soldiers against engaging in partisan politics.

Mitra defends soldiers

“Any soldier who would be proven to have committed electioneering would face sanctions and would face punishment as grave as dismissal from the service,” he said.

Ramon Mitra, 45, a Nacionalista Party senatorial candidate and former Marine captain, said soldiers had no right to grumble about the President promoting loyal officers. He said that PMA Class ’78 had some of the military’s “most brilliant and honorable soldiers.”

“The fact that they are trusted gives them the most critical qualification to key posts in the government and nobody is questioning that,” said the namesake son of the late Speaker Ramon V. Mitra.

“We are tired of being suspected of adventurism, we just want to be what we all are—good soldiers,” he said.

“For soldiers like us, happiness and fulfillment are defined differently. Where work is concerned, the key words continue to be honor, tradition and commitment to the service,” Mitra said.

“The supremacy of the people in a democratic government continues to be the basis of how we define our role in the society and the guide that makes our kind accept or reject a situation,” he said.

A recipient of the Distinguished Conduct Star, he was a second lieutenant and fresh out of the PMA when he fought on the side of then President Corazon Aquino in the 1989 coup attempt, the worst in the string of mutinies against her. With reports from Nikko Dizon and Michael Lim Ubac

General hurting at bypass

General hurting at bypass
No clapping on Army chief’s promotion
By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The military officer whom President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo designated as martial law administrator in Maguindanao province last year has admitted he’s not happy over being bypassed in the selection of the new commander of the Army.

Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command, said on Tuesday he and other ranking military officers were “not clapping [their] hands or celebrating” the appointment of Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu as Army chief.

“But we’re not questioning the prerogative of the President,” Ferrer quickly added. “It’s [her] prerogative to appoint military officers whom she trusts to key positions.”

Ferrer spoke with the Philippine Daily Inquirer after testifying at Tuesday’s hearing in Camp Crame of the rebellion case against members of the powerful Ampatuan family of Maguindanao.

Ms Arroyo declared martial law in the province on Dec. 4, 2009, naming Ferrer as administrator, and lifted it on Dec. 12.

The martial law declaration was in connection with the purported rebellion of the Ampatuans and their followers, the suspects in the Nov. 23 massacre of 57 people, including at least 30 journalists, in Maguindanao.

Good soldier

Asked what he felt when he was passed over for the top Army post, Ferrer said: “I will just do my job. As a soldier, I will follow orders. I respect the prerogative of the President.”

Ferrer also spoke highly of Mapagu: “He’s qualified for the position because he also served as a division commander. He rose [through] the leadership ladder.”

A 1977 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Ferrer was expected to replace Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit as Army chief. (Bangit, a former head of the Presidential Security Group, was appointed AFP chief of staff last week.)

But Ms Arroyo appointed Mapagu who, like Bangit, is a member of PMA Class of 1978, which has adopted the President as an honorary member.

The appointments of Bangit and Mapagu were followed by that of their “mistah” (classmate)—Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue—as chief of the Army’s National Capital Region Command (NCRCom).

Angue’s appointment further fueled speculation about the so-called “Oplan August Moon,” a purported plan designed to extend Ms Arroyo’s stay in power and entailing putting members of PMA Class ’78 in vital military and police posts.

NCRCom is known as the primary anti-coup unit of the military.

Another member of the class, Director Roberto Rosales, is being rumored to replace Director General Jesus Verzosa as chief of the Philippine National Police. Rosales heads the Metro Manila police force.

PMA ’77 meeting

The talk going around is that members of PMA Class of 1977 met somewhere in Metro Manila a few hours after the Department of National Defense confirmed Mapagu’s appointment as Army chief on March 10.

Ferrer declined to comment when asked. “I don’t know anything about it,” he said in Filipino.

But according to a senior police officer, the meeting indeed took place.

“The officers were just concerned about the sudden turn of events in the military and its major services,” said the source, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the subject.

New NCR military chief another Arroyo classmate

New NCR military chief another Arroyo classmate
By Reynaldo Santos Jr

MANILA, Philippines—Many were skeptical when Gen. Delfin Bangit, upon his assumption as chief of staff of the Armed Forces, vowed to shield the military from being used in fraudulent acts in the elections.

Bangit, after all, is known to be loyal to President Arroyo. In 2004, several generals were implicated in a grand scheme to rig the elections in favor of Ms. Arroyo.

On Saturday, Bangit seemed out to prove that he’d keep his word that “only God can use me.” He placed Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue at the helm of the military’s National Capital Region Command (NCRCom), replacing Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, who had been promoted chief of the Philippine Army.

Bangit, Angue, and Mapagu belong to the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1978, which counts President Arroyo as honorary member. The PNP’s Commander for NCR, Roberto Rosales, is also their classmate.

On May 11, 2004, Angue, then a Navy captain, was pulled out from his assignment as commander of Task Force 62 that controlled military troops in Tawi-Tawi on suspicion that he was aiding President Arroyo’s rival, Fernando Poe Jr.

It turned out, according to some concerned soldiers, Angue was in fact trying to frustrate the administration’s move to use the military in Tawi-Tawi to rig the votes.

Newsbreak reported in 2005 that Tawi-Tawi was the only province in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao where Poe won (49,803 against Arroyo’s 33,634).

Former Tawi-Tawi Rep. Nur Jaafar had admitted to Newsbreak that he sought the removal of Angue at the time because the Navy captain was “fraternizing” with Gov. Sadikul Sahali, who was campaigning for Poe.

“He (Angue) was hostile to us, allowing our rivals to use military vehicles,” according to Jafaar, who lost.

A source close to Angue, however, told Newsbreak that he didn’t mind being pulled out because it was a choice between “taking a leave or taking part in the cheating.”

In an interview at the time, Angue denied that he was biased for the opposition. “What I made sure precisely was for the military not to be used,” he said.

In the wiretapped conversation that was uncovered a year later, the President asked Virgilio Garcillano about reports that the opposition was preparing an election complaint in Calanguyan, Tawi- Tawi.

Garcillano told her not to worry because, after all, “wala naman tayong ginawa doon (we didn’t do anything there).” They even lost there, he said.

Before heading the military’s NCR Com, Angue was assigned chief of staff of the Philippine Navy. He was with the rebel military group behind the coup attempts during the administration of the late President Corazon Aquino in the 1980s. (Newsbreak)