MILITANT LABOR OPPOSES DEPLOYMENT OF TROOPS IN METRO

METRO MANILA, NOVEMBER 13,  2003   (STAR) By Mayen Jaymalin - Militant labor groups strongly opposed the planned deployment of 6,000 military officers in Metro Manila, which they said is tantamount to declaring the region under martial rule.

In separate statements, Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and Sanlakas said the presence of military troops in various areas in Metro Manila must have other motives other than securing the region from coup plotters and terrorists.

"Reviving this kind of military unit might have been hatched for another purpose and that could be a show of force to clamp the growing dissent against the Arroyo administration," Sanlakas Rep. J.V. Bautista said.

According to Bautista, Malacañang seems to be painting a scenario to justify the revival of a Metrocom-type organization that would take control over crisis situations in Metro Manila.

Metrocom was the dreaded military unit created by strongman Ferdinand Marcos to secure his foothold in Metro Manila, which was then the center of anti-dictatorship struggle.

"This is another case of overkill. We are not in a state of war," Bautista said as he questioned the deployment of military troops throughout Metro Manila.

In a statement issued at Malacañang yesterday, President Arroyo, however, said that the newly reactivated AFP National Capital Regional Command (NCRC) would now be a major partner of the Philippine National Police (PNP) National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) in providing security, peace and order in the metropolis and neighboring areas.

"We expect this to engender greater stability and peace of mind among our people," she said.

The President, however, clarified that the NCRC is not an anti-coup unit that will respond to any new military mutiny attempt.

"It is an anti-terrorism and anti-insurgency command that will serve as deterrent against threats to do harm to our communities," she said.

"The Armed Forces are there to protect the people whenever and wherever needed," Mrs. Arroyo cited. — With Marichu Villanueva


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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