Monday, February 27, 2006

Uncle Sam Backs Civilian Authority, Unlikely To Support Military Take Over

MANILA (Zamboanga Journal / 27 Feb) The United States is unlikely to support a military take-over of the government of President Gloria Arroyo following a tense, six-hour standoff by disgruntled marine soldiers inside one of the biggest military camp in Manila.

"We hope and expect that the Filipino people will seek peaceful solutions to the currently situation through constitutional procedures. The United States strongly believes in the principle and practice of civilian control of a professional and non-political military," a US embassy statement said Tuesday.

Hundreds of soldiers rushed to the Marine headquarters late Monday after learning that their commandant Maj. Gen. Renato Miranda was sacked from his post, the second highest military official relieved since last week after the government said it crushed a coup by rebel soldiers allegedly tied with communist insurgents.

The Armed Forces also sacked Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim after he tried to recruit other military generals to withdraw their support to Arroyo. On Friday, police dispersed massive anti-Arroyo protests in Manila after the President declared a state of emergency.

"The United States reiterates its call that the Government of the Philippines, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Filipino people respect fully the rule of law, protect civil liberties and human rights, and reject violence," the embassy statement said.

Miranda was replaced by his deputy Brig. Gen. Nelson Allaga and military spokesmen said the former Marine commandant had asked to be relieved for personal reasons.

"It is clear we follow the chain of command, and we follow the duly constituted authority. We will not allow ourselves to be used by anybody," Allaga told reporters after a meeting with his senior commanders.

The chief of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon, on Monday said the 32,000-strong army and marine soldiers deployed in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago remain loyal to Arroyo.

"Our troops are loyal to the Commander-in-Chief, and we reiterate our loyalty to the chain of command and the Constitution and will continue to defend democracy," Habacon said.

The Southern Command, the largest military installation outside Manila, has control over three army division, an army, air force and marine and navy command headquarters in the southern Philippines.

In Jolo island, Brig. Gen. Alexander Aleo, commander of military forces in the Sulu archipelago, earlier said troops are also behind the Arroyo government and will continue to support her presidency. "We remain loyal to the commander in chief and will follow the chain of command," he said.

Armed Forces spokesman Col. Tristan Kison said: "General Miranda requested for his relief due to personal reasons. He filed a personal action form requesting that he be relieved. And Gen. Allaga took over from his post."

Allaga said the relief of Miranda was internal to the Marines and that politics had nothing to do with the order. "This is internal to us, politics have nothing to do with this," he said.

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