Nene, bishop question soldiers’ presence in Metro Manila

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., DJ Yap, Jerome Aning
Last updated 02:41am (Mla time) 07/12/2007

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. has questioned Malacañang’s decision to deploy military troops to urban centers allegedly in preparation for President Macapagal-Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address on July 23.


Pimentel yesterday raised doubts on whether or not Filipinos were welcoming with open arms the increased presence of soldiers in their neighborhood.


“For me, the deployment of the military is more worrisome because it is against the law. Soldiers should not be allowed to wander around the country,” he told reporters.


His sentiment was shared by Bishop Honesto Ongtiongco who said the presence of local policemen and other law enforcers should be enough to safeguard against communist and terror threats.


“It’s puzzling. I’ve been asking myself why is there a need to deploy soldiers,” Ongtiongco said in an interview over Radio Veritas.


“I wonder if there’s really a great need for their added presence since our mayors and our police and other law enforcers have been diligent in combating communism and terrorism,” he added.


As far as the issue of peace and order is concerned, Ongtiongco said his Cubao diocese, which covers southern Quezon City, should be safe from any threats since the national military and police headquarters, camps Aguinaldo and Crame, are located inside within the diocese.


The Armed Forces of the Philippines announced earlier the return of soldiers to communities in Quezon, Manila, Caloocan and Taguig cities to carry out civil work.


There is one place, however, where they would not be welcome: Makati City.


Barangay leaders of the financial capital took issue with the deployment of armed troops to the metropolis, saying peacekeeping in the communities remains the responsibility of the police and the local governments.


Rodolfo Sese, head of the city’s Liga ng mga Barangay and barangay chair of Guadalupe Nuevo, said in a statement that the presence of troops would only cause undue alarm among city residents and visitors.


“The barangay leaders of Makati believe that the official purpose for which the Armed Forces of the Philippines troops are being deployed, which is to maintain peace and order in the communities, is a function of the police and the local authorities,” he said.


Maria Gordon and Victor del Prado, the chairs of Barangays Magallanes and Sta. Cruz, respectively, expressed similar sentiments.


“The peace and order in our barangay and surrounding communities have consistently been under excellent control by local authorities,” Gordon said.


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