Philippines: Police, not troops, should keep peace in Manila barangays

Jun. 14, 2007

MANILA — 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

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

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

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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