Press Release
May 29, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the Senate reserves its right to slash the budget of the Department of National Defense and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) particularly the intelligence funds, if they will not take corrective measures to prevent human right abuses committed by the military and they will keep on refusing to submit the Mayuga report to the Senate.

Pimentel aired the senators dismay over the apparent attempt of defense and AFP officials to cover up violations of human rights and the laws committed by operatives of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) when they rounded up five civilian supporters of former President Joseph Estrada.

There are members of the Senate who have expressed reservations over the use of the AFPs intelligence funds. It is not very clear to us how these funds are being used, he said.

The minority leader reminded the defense and AFP officials that the Senate approved the P49 billion budget for the current year on condition that they will be able to satisfactorily explain the arrest, and detention of five Estrada loyalists, and to impose sanction on those who may have acted beyond the bounds of the law.

Pimentel noted that the AFP has flatly denied allegations that the Estrada followers were tortured by their captors while being detained in safehouse despite visible physical signs that they were harmed. Certain AFP officials also refuse to heed the demand for public apology after they issued erroneous statements denying that the Estrada followers had been apprehended and placed under military detention.

We are bothered because if they cannot come up with a satisfactorily explanation, I think they face the risk of having their funding allocations reduced although on a personal level, I would hesitate to do that because I do not want the effectiveness of our armed forces undermined, he said.

At the very least, he said the Senate may find it necessary to impose additional restrictions and safeguards in the use of intelligence funds, and subject their disbursement to closer scrutiny through the oversight committee on intelligence.

Pimentel said the military officials, instead of challenging the aggrieved parties to file complaints in court, should be forthright to admit the mistakes that were committed in the warrantless arrest of the Estrada followers who were accused of involvement in alleged assassination plot against certain Cabinet members.

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