METRO POLICE, MAYORS BEHIND ARROYO GOVERNMENT

Metro Manila, July 28, 2003 By Non Alquitran and Cecille Suerte Felipe (Star) The 17,000-strong National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Metro Manila mayors threw their all-out support yesterday behind the Arroyo administration.

NCRPO chief Deputy Director General Reynaldo Velasco visited the five police districts in Metro Manila early yesterday morning and said that not a single soul symphatized with the rebel military officers occupying the Oakwood Plaza in Makati City.

"I conducted a loyalty check among my officers and men and we are one in throwing our support behind the government of President Arroyo," said Velasco in an interview.

Meanwhile, Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, concurrent president of the Metro Manila Mayors League, said that he and his fellow Metro mayors are fully supporting Mrs. Arroyo and deplored the action of the disgruntled soldiers.

"We in Manila are working with the national government to address the pressing problems pressing our country such as poverty. Their actions would not help solve our problems as a nation and would have a grave negative impact on the countryís economy.

According to Velasco, he is in close coordination with the military ground commander handling the Makati crisis. They agreed, he said, that the NCRPO would deploy its men only in crowd control and other support commitments.

Velasco appealed to Metro Manilans to remain calm. "We are on top of the peace and order situation except that small part of Makati City," said Velasco noting that the Arroyo government is doing its best to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Velasco also ordered the dispersal of Estrada loyalists marching towards several converging points in Metro Manila to support the junior military officers.

"All marchers who failed to show proper permits will be dispersed immediately," he said, adding that they are prepared for any eventuality to prevent the Estrada supporters from getting near the Oakwood Plaza in Makati City to reinforce the mutineers.

Checkpoints at all entry and exit points in Metro Manila were already set-up to prevent the rebel groupís supporters from other parts of the country from sneaking into the metropolis.

Chief Superintendent Marcelino Franco Jr., director of the Northern Police District (NPD), said six-layered checkpoints in northern Metro Manila were erected as of 2 p.m. and not a single contact with the "enemy" was recorded.

"We expect the worst scenario and are ready for any eventuality to rally behind the Arroyo government. We are ready to pull out from our area anytime on orders of superiors in the official chain of command," Franco said.

Meanwhile, Western Police District director Chief Superintendent Pedro Bulaong said that no rallyist or "suspicious-looking" individuals will be allowed near the Palace, the United States Embassy and the oil depots. ó With Jerry Botial

Airport security on red alert By Sandy Araneta (Star) 07/28/2003

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has placed on red alert its security at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Manila Domestic Airport since Saturday morning due to the attempted coup dí etat launched by junior military officers.

In an interview with The STAR, MIAA Assistant General Manager for Security and Emergency Services General Angel Atutubo said they have deployed about 6,000 security personnel including members of MIAAís Airport Police Department, the Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group, security forces of airline companies, private security groups like the Lanting Security and Watchman Agency and Philippine Aviation Security Service Corporation (PASSCOR).

"We have been monitoring since Saturday in order to give protection to everyone especially the passengers as well as all people going to the airports and all our facilities. No security member has been sent home. Our in and out airport patrol are continuous," said Atutubo.

He added that they secured the areas also to protect people against possible hostage-taking incidents.

Atutubo, who admitted being a member of the controversial military group, the Guardians, said he received reports on Saturday morning about the groupís plan to converge at the Magallanes Center and march towards Makati on Sunday. He said he contacted right away the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters to alert them on the plans.

Atutubo disclosed that the Guardians is a group created by Sen. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan and has several sub-groups.

"No Guardian member assigned in the airport participated with the rally in Makati. I was able to talk to my men soon and convinced them that their job is to secure the airport," said Atutubo.

For his part, Major Restituto Padilla, Philippine Air Force (PAF) Public Information Office (PIO) chief, said the about 300 soldiers from the 710th Special Operations Wing, were sent to Makati City to augment government forces.

"All our bases are on red alert. The air force is very much on the side of the administration," Padilla said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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