Manila, July 28, 2003 By Evelyn Macairan (Star)  North Luzon Expressway exit points sealed off

The Philippine National Construction Corp. (PNCC), acting on a request from Chief Superintendent Vidal Querol, Central Luzon police director, temporarily closed yesterday two Manila-bound exits of the North Luzon Expressway.

The move was apparently meant to prevent possible mutineers from Northern and Central Luzon from going to Metro Manila.

Orly Lanusan, PNCC spokesman, said they received instructions from Querol early yesterday morning to close the southbound exits in Tabang and Guiguinto in Bulacan and Sta. Ines in Mabalacat, Pampanga.

Six armored personnel carriers were reportedly spotted at the Sta. Ines exit late Saturday night.

The South Luzon Expressway was similarly closed to traffic yesterday, particularly at the Calamba, Laguna tollway.

Ferdinand Simbre, head of PNCC’s traffic safety and security department, said regional police officials ordered the closure and deployed three armored personnel carriers to block the Calamba tollway.

The move triggered a more than two-kilometer traffic pile-up from Mayapa to Barangay Turbina in Calamba.

Yesterday morning, eight six-by-six trucks carrying soldiers with white armbands were also seen on the North Luzon Expressway.

"Gen. Querol asked us to temporarily close the southbound exits while the other (Manila) entry points are being closely monitored by military and police personnel," Lanusan said.

"Restrictions do not only apply to military vehicles but also to private cars," he added.

The closure has caused the pile-up of vehicles coming from MacArthur Highway, the Ilocos region, Tarlac and Baguio, which is the home of the Philippine Military Academy.

Angeles City Mayor Carmelo Lazatin asked the public to bear with the heightened security measures along the North Luzon Expressway.

"We have to be patient and understanding," he said. — With Ding Cervantes and Arnell Ozaeta

Leader of original Makati siege now tries to help put out fire By Ding Cervantes (Star) 07/28/2003

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga — Fourteen years ago, Col. Danilo Lim walked the streets of Makati City with disaffection and misgivings about the administration of then President Corazon Aquino.

Along with many other young military officers, Lim participated in a coup d’ etat supposedly aimed at reforming the Armed Forces.

Yesterday, Lim, now commander of the 4th Scout Rangers based in Bulacan, found himself in the same place and in the same scenario. Only this time, he was on the other side of the fence.

Lim was among those who organized a group of young officers yesterday to help convince the mutineers led by Navy Lt. Antonio Trillanes, to give themselves up before the 5 p.m. deadline set by President Arroyo.

The STAR reached Lim by telephone at the Oakwood Premier Ayala Center in Makati which the mutineers had occupied.

Lim said everyone was "welcome to pitch in" to help bring the standoff to a peaceful end.

He said none of his troops in Bulacan joined the rebel forces.

"Scout Rangers who joined the group were from Mindanao," Lim added.

Lim said he was confident that negotiations would bring positive results, but also stressed that soldiers who participated in the mutiny would have to face court martial.

He said the President’s order to subject the mutineers to court martial is a "given" and "will stand."

‘No military hand in Davao City blasts’ By Edith Regalado (Star) 07/28/2003

DAVAO CITY — "Certainly, it was not the Armed Forces."

Thus said Senior Superintendent Conrado Laza, city police chief, as he denied yesterday claims by the mutineers that the military, particularly Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus, chief of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), had a hand in the twin bombings that rocked this city last March and April.

"Our investigations pointed to the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) as the perpetrator (of the bombings)," Laza said.

Last March 4, a powerful blast ripped through a crowded waiting shed outside the Davao International Airport. Nearly a month later, on April 2, another bomb exploded in a row of food stalls outside the passenger terminal at the Sasa wharf.

The two blasts left 39 people dead and over 200 others wounded.

Laza confirmed that Corpus was, indeed, in this city on April 2 but to attend a Mindanao-wide indigenous people’s conference held in one of the hotels here.

He added that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has already filed charges against MILF chairman Hashim Salamat and 200 other leaders and field commanders of the separatist group in connection with the two bombings.

"You just have to understand that the charges had been filed and the warrants of arrest had to be quashed to give way to the resumption of the peace negotiations," Laza said.

Meanwhile, military and police officials in Southern Mindanao said all of their men have been accounted for.

"We have been constantly checking on them. We have been doing this since the time there were rumors about a coup," said Chief Superintendent Isidro Lapeña, regional police director.

Army Col. Gaudencio Pangilinan, commander of Task Force Davao, said his men were similarly in their assigned posts securing this city against terrorist threats.

No mutineers from Tarlac, Bataan By Benjie Villa (Star) 07/28/2003

TARLAC CITY — The leadership of the Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) belied reports that some of its troops here and in Bataan allegedly intending to reinforce military mutineers in Makati City were arrested and confined to barracks at dawn yesterday.

Speaking on behalf of Maj. Gen. Romeo Dominguez, Nolcom commander, Lt. Col. Preme Monta said government forces deployed north of Metro Manila were "all intact."

"All uniformed and non-combat personnel, our armaments and government facilities within the Nolcom’s jurisdiction have been accounted for," he said.

The Nolcom, based at Camp Gen. Servillano Aquino in Barangay San Miguel here, has jurisdiction over Central and Northern Luzon.

Since the middle of last week, there had been talk that several junior officers in Tarlac and Bataan had become similarly restive and agitated by the gripes being aired by their comrades-in-arms from the Visayas and Mindanao. Unconfirmed reports claimed that the Nolcom subsequently went on red alert.

Unconfirmed reports also have it that restive troops from Nolcom were separately intercepted in Capas, Tarlac and near Manila Bay after allegedly abandoning their camps in Bataan.

But Monta denied that there were unauthorized troop movements within Nolcom’s jurisdiction.

"We are not sending troops to Manila to support the (mutineers)," he said. "All troop movements within Nolcom’s area of responsibility are legitimate and lawful."

He added: "All soldiers under Nolcom will remain and always remain loyal to the Constitution and the commander-in-chief."

Asked if Nolcom would send reinforcements to government forces in Manila, he said, "Kaya na nila ’yon (They can handle the situation there)."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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