Press Release
June 13, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to scrap its plan to redeploy soldiers to depressed barangays in Metro Manila now that the mid-term elections are over.

Pimentel advised the AFP to send its idle troops instead to provinces where communist and Muslim insurgents have a strong presence and to leave the maintenance of peace and order in urban communities to the Philippine National Police, as well local civilian officials, in conformity with the Constitution and laws.

He was bothered by reports that Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the AFP National Regional Command, has recommended the return of the troops to 17 Metro Manila barangays to Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, AFP chief-of-staff.

I am against the redeployment of soldiers to the Metro Manila barangays because it is against the Constitution, the minority leader said.

Pimentel noted that even the PNP has declared that the AFP is encroaching upon the authority of the police by allowing soldiers to take over security functions in poor barangays in the metropolis.

He said the AFP should not defy the position of the Commission on Human Rights that soldiers should not be deployed in the urban poor communities since residents feel that their presence curtails their freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

Pimentel cited the complaints of residents in these barangays that they were being dissuaded by the soldiers from voting for leftist party-list organizations in the last elections.

The AFP has justified the stationing of troops to the urban poor communities by claiming that this was intended to check infiltration of communist elements. Gen. Esperon admitted this is part of the AFPs counter-insurgency operation.

Assuming that the communist infiltration of these areas were true, Pimentel pointed out that this problem can be addressed by deploying more policemen there.

He also voiced suspicion that the AFP is planning to redeploy the soldiers to the depressed barangays in Metro Manila as part or the preparation for the effectivity of the Human Security Act (Anti-Terrorism Law) two months after the May 14 elections.

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