Press Release
March 8, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should order the immediate pullout of soldiers from 27 barangays in Metro Manila instead of merely telling them to change from combat to office uniform.

Pimentel said the deployment of the soldiers to the depressed urban barangays under the guise of conducting civic-military operations is illegal and they encroach on the functions of civil authorities, primarily the barangay officials and the police, to maintain law and order in these communities.

"A chameleon is a chameleon. Even if it changes colors, the President's order for the soldiers to change uniform reflects her obsession with form, not with substance," he said.

"Let the local government units maintain law and order in the barangays. Soldiers should return to the barracks."

The opposition leader said there is strong ground to believe that the military presence in the vote-rich barangays in Quezon, Manila and Caloocan cities was intended to dissuade the residents from supporting candidates who are fighting the abuses and oppressive acts of the Arroyo administration.

"Their unwarranted intrusion into local government domain raises alarum bells that: (a) during this election period, they are sent to the barangays to intimidate people into voting for the administration candidates, or worse, (b) to condition the minds of the people that the law of the gun or martial law is inevitable and that there is nothing we can do about it."

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