By VICTOR REYES
January 17, 2007
FIVE active and discharged soldiers allegedly involved in a plot to destabilize government were arrested Tuesday in Quezon City, the military said yesterday.
A military report said the five are members of Para sa Bayan, a group said to be headed by Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, former Scout Ranger commander who is facing court martial along with 27 other officers for a supposed power grab plot in February 2006.
The military identified one active soldier as Cpl. Redante Maranan and the four discharged soldiers as Sgt. Orlando Valencia and Corporals Walter Francisco, Ramon Perania, and Kim Agas.
But lawyer Trixie Angeles identified the active soldier as Cpl. Jaime Dumagpi. She said Dumagpi was arrested inside Camp Aguinaldo Monday night.
A complaint filed by the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group with the justice department accused the five of illegal possession of firearms, a bailable offense.
The military report said the five were arrested by combined operatives from the PNP-CIDG, Quezon City Police District, and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces at around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in their alleged safehouse on Ramirez street in Galas, Quezon City.
The report said the five yielded two M16 rifles, an AK47 rifle, an L300 van and a Honda Civic car which they allegedly used in transporting weapons.
The N. Ramirez address is where Valencia and Perania live.
In the three-page charge sheet submitted by CIDG Chief Supt. Michel Amos Filart, the police said they received a military intelligence report regarding a transfer of high-powered firearms in the area to be perpetrated by discharged Scout Rangers and Marines.
The three firearms were supposedly brought to the house by the three other suspects aboard the L-300 van and the Honda car.
“The firearms will be used in destabilization plot against the government,” the charge sheet said.
During inquest proceedings, Filart said the seized firearms were not registered with the PNP Firearms and Explosives Division.
PNP chief Avelino Razon Jr. said those arrested were among 32 listed in a document found in one of the rooms of the Manila Peninsula hotel in Makati City, where Oakwood mutiny leader Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, other Magdalo officers, and civilians holed out for about six hours on November 29 and called for President Arroyo’s ouster.
Razon said the five would be charged with rebellion because the crime is a continuing offense.
“They are planning to hold destabilization moves on the anniversaries of Edsa 2 and Mendiola Massacre (of 1987),” Razon said.
Razon also said a reporter has been identified as having something to do with the escape of Marines Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, another Magdalo leader, at the height of the Peninsula standoff.
He declined to give details.
Lawyer Angeles said Valencia, Francisco and Perania were among soldiers recently discharged by Army chief Lt. Gen. Alexander Yano for involvement in the February 2006 plot.
She said Valencia was “deliberately injured” by the operatives who picked him up.
She said the five were picked up by a group of men who introduced themselves to the families of the soldiers as “intelligence operatives of the military.”
Angeles said the Isafp cannot arrest the discharged soldiers because they are already civilians.
“If ever they are being accused of any crime, then by necessity it should be the police who should be investigating them,” she said.
Worse, she said, the five were being “to the rumors of destabilization.”
PARA SA BAYAN?
Angeles also protested the military’s description of the soldiers as members of the PSB, which Lim and his co-accused Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda, former Marines commandant, reportedly used in the plot to overthrow the government in February 2006.
“We’re not even sure if there is a group called PSG. This is an amorphous thing. If you’re talking of the case versus the Scout Rangers and the Marines currently detained in Tanay, the charge sheets do not indicate any identifiable group of Para sa Bayan,” she said.
She said the group Para sa Bayan was exposed by the military based in some documents. “But there is really no such group. It is again a propensity of the military to call them names,” Angeles said.
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said the arrest only confirmed intelligence reports of another destabilization attempt.
“That’s significant. These are the same people who have connections with the Oakwood and Manila Peninsula incidents and Trillanes,” he said.
Gonzalez has said the supposed new destabilization move would be carried out between today and January 22.
Talks on the new destabilization plot prompted a travel advisory from Britain, telling its citizens to “avoid demonstrations and large gatherings of people.”
The UK advisory said “there is often a rise in tensions and political unrest around public holidays, political events and important anniversaries.”
Militant groups are commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Mendiola massacre on January 22.
Protest organizers, including the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, have said government allegations that the protest actions would trigger destabilization moves were attempts to “vilify legitimate forms of public protests.”
Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim said the “no rally, no permit” stays.
“Our standing policy is we will allow rallies and demonstrations in Mendiola on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays,” he said.
Supt. Roberto Rosales, Manila police chief, said preparations are being taken in anticipation of the series of mass gatherings – Sto. Nino processions from January 19 to 21, and rallies on January 20 to mark the 7th year anniversary of the Edsa Dos and the Mendiola Massacre on January 22.
He said he might deploy about 900 policemen around Mendiola. About 3,300 policemen would be on standby. With Evangeline de Vera, Raymond Africa, Jocelyn Monte-mayor and Anthony Ian Cruz