Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ex-Philippine Police Chief Is New Defense Boss

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / 31 Jan) – President Gloria Arroyo named Wednesday Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane as new Philippine Defense chief.

Ebdane, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, replaced lawyer Avelino Cruz, who resigned last year after criticizing Arroyo’s political allies over a proposed change in the Constitution that could prolong the president's stay and her allies in power.

Arroyo’s spokesman, Ignacio Bunye, said the President has full confidence that Ebdane can implement the Defense Reform Program, which was strongly pursued in the past by former Philippine military chief Narciso Abaya.

Abaya, president of the government’s Bases Conversion Development Authority, was previously thought to head the Department of National Defense after the Philippine media reported that he would replace Cruz because of his clean and untainted records as a military man.

Ebdane’s Under Secretary Manuel Bonoan has been named as acting Public Works chief. Ebdane, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class 1970, was PNP chief from 2002 to 2004.

Many soldiers and military officials were unhappy over Ebdane’s appointment as Defense chief because of his alleged links to poll cheating in the May 2004 Presidential elections that won Arroyo a new term.

“We don’t want him in the Defense (Department). We want somebody like Secretary (Avelino) Cruz or perhaps General (Narciso) Abaya, who is one of the most respected in the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) organization. We want somebody whose integrity is unquestionable,” an army sergeant, who asked not to be identified, told the Mindanao Examiner in Camp Aguinaldo, the main military headquarters.

There was no evidence or charges against Ebdane in connection with the allegations of poll cheating. (Mindanao Examiner)

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