Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Troop pull-out from urban centers a reaction to the revelation of Oplan Mercury Rising

Wednesday May 9, 2007

Troop pull-out from urban centers a reaction to the revelation of Oplan Mercury Rising

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that even as the tas he declared the pull-out of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from the urban centers can be declared 'a victory for civil rights and the assertion of civilian authority,' he said that under no circumstances should Filipinos become complacent. He said that it was more than likely that the AFP has already planted and assigned their own spies in the communities to continue monitoring all civilian activity related to the elections on Monday, including the activities of the progressive party-lists.

"We have been consistent in demanding the pull-out of troops from the urban centers, but this sudden move on the part of the AFP leadership is most likely related to the expose made by retired generals and police that there's a military plot afoot to ensure a victory for the Macapagal-Arroyo administration's candidates. Without doubt, this 'Oplan Mercury Rising' also includes the continued deployment of troops within the perimeter of voting precincts and where there are high concentration of voters. With the sudden expose made on the military plot, Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. thought quickly and ordered the troop withdrawal," he said.

"It's suspicious because of the timing. Only recently Esperon and the AFP's spokespersons as well as Malacanang itself were stiff necked in their refusal to order the troop pull-out. Now they're rushing the withdrawal. This is not enough, however – AFP troops should remain in their barracks on election day, and the Comelec should order an investigation into Oplan Mercury Rising based on the facts revealed by the whistle-blowers," he said.

Beltran said that the AFP top brass continues to issue denials, "But there are countless confirmed reports coming in from our provincial and regional chapters that soldiers are campaigning for Team Unity and for Jovito Palparan's bogus party-list," he said. "Civilians in Bicol, Leyte, and provinces in Mindanao are being harassed into supporting the TU slate and the party-lists funded by the government," he said.

He also said that the recent revelation that there are also ex-servicemen from the police and military standing as nominees of the Malacanang-backed party-lists also exposed a concerted military plot to infiltrate the party-list system and twist it onto serving the agenda of Malacanang as opposed to the needs of the marginalized sectors.

To the Comelec: don't rush the proclamation of winners but make sure that there's no cheating and fraud

In the meantime, Beltran today expressed wariness over the declaration of the Commission on Elections that it will be able to proclaim the winners of the senatorial race five days following the May 14 polls. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that this will be possible so long as there are no technical glitches or 'untoward incidents.' In 2004 11 winning senators were proclaimed 10 days after the votes were cast.

"The senatorial elections this time around is more crucial for the Macapagal-Arroyo administration because to some degree, the results will impact on the president's chances of political survival. Already there are alarming signs that next Monday's polls, like the May 2004 elections, will be rigged in favor of the incumbent administration's slate. The Comelec does not need to make any promises that it will be able to declare the senatorial winners immediately after the polls; what we are more after are assurances that there will be no room for electoral fraud and various forms of massive cheating," he said.

Beltran said that the Comelec's own reputation and credibility has yet to recover from the 'Hello, Garci' scandal that involved one of its commissioners Virgilio Garcillano, "We hope that none of the Comelec's commissioners will again be caught cutting deals with the administration to favor the candidates it endorses, whether on the national or the local level. We would much rather that the election results and the declaration of winners come later that the results be compromised and the true winners cheated out of their victory."#


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