Press Release
July 15, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the public to make their sentiments known about the appointment of Gen. Hermogenes Esperon as chief-of-staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to help the Commission on Appointments decide on his case.

If there are people who feel that Gen. Esperon does not deserve to get the top AFP post, then they should file their petition with the CA, he said.

Pimentel said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos choice of Esperon as the next AFP chief is a very controversial one because his alleged involvement in the 2004 electoral fraud in Mindanao, as imputed in the Hello Garci tapes, remains unresolved.

What compounds the problem, according to the minority leader, is that Esperon was elevated to AFP chief while his promotion from major general to lieutenant general remains hanging in the CA because the stigma over his head as one of the so-called Hello Garci generals has yet to be erased.

Pimentel, however, said that because of the numerical superiority of the Presidents legislative allies among the CA members, Esperon may be eventually confirmed.

It is important for the people to speak up if they dont think that Gen. Esperons appointment as AFP chief will not be good for the military organization. Otherwise, if they will not lift a finger, it will be the politicians who will decide on his appointment. And chances are political considerations will prevail over what is good for the country, he said.

The lone senator from Mindanao also assailed the continuous attempts of Malacañang and the AFP to conceal the truth behind the alleged involvement of some generals in the rigging of the outcome of the 2004 presidential elections by refusing to release of the Mayuga investigation report on the case.

If Gen. Esperon was involved in the Hello Garci scandal, he has a tough task ahead of him to prove that he is loyal to the Republic, and not to the President who appoint him. Pimentel said.

While it is easy to dismiss him as a willing tool of the President, it is better if he is given a chance to prove his worth. After all, man is redeemable. He should have the opportunity to redeem himself within the term of his office if the CA confirms him.

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