Manila, August 22, 2003 (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva  - President Arroyo called for an end to partisan politics to help put the country back on course following the damage caused by the July 27 mutiny.

"It is high time for our nation to break away from the excessive preoccupation with politics and to consolidate our energies towards the indispensable tasks of public order and development," Mrs. Arroyo said yesterday.

The President stressed the mutiny has "shattered" the country’s political stability and shook confidence in the economy.

Sources disclosed Mrs. Arroyo has ordered its economic team to appease the business sector in an effort to calm frayed nerves in the market shaken by the recent political events.

But Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho claimed no such order came from Mrs. Arroyo.

Camacho, however, admitted the need to refocus attention on economic fundamentals following the recent events.

"We were doing much better than we were doing early in the year," Camacho said. "But that (effort) is no longer noticed because of all this (political) noise."

Mrs. Arroyo said the prevailing situation is further worsened by what she called "excessive preoccupation with politics," alluding to the controversy involving her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Without mentioning names, Mrs. Arroyo deplored some political leaders for not helping in the government’s bid to restore normalcy in the country.

"Partisan politics is aggravating the already steep difficulties of our people. I ask them to resist being distracted away from the focus on poverty, terrorism, crime and corruption — to which the government is devoting its undivided attention," she said. "Enough of the politics of ruin and stagnation."

Even after Mrs. Arroyo earlier assured that the situation in the country will return to normal following the damage caused by the July 27 mutiny, political leaders are still focusing their efforts on the cause of the rebellion.

Mrs. Arroyo survived a bloodless military mutiny on July 27 after several hundred military rebels occupied a ritzy apartment complex in Makati but failed to muster more support. More than 300 known participants have been arrested and placed on trial.

Since then, the Arroyo family has been hit recently by allegations from opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson that the presidential husband was involved in a money laundering operation. The couple has rejected the allegations as politically motivated.

Doing Away With PMA

Following the accusations of Lacson, senators were quick in calling for another round of investigation by planning to summon the presidential husband to explain his side.

This is aside from the ongoing investigations by both legislative chambers on the July 27 mutiny.

The Senate committee on education announced they will also review the curriculum of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) on the possibility that the mutiny "may have its roots in the training and orientation of mistahs."

According to Sen. Francis Pangilinan, lawmakers have taken note of the recurring issue of military restiveness among PMA graduates which should not be taken as mere coincidences.

"This restiveness (in the military) may have its roots in the training and orientation of the mistahs (graduates) as guided by their academic curriculum, which is exclusively for them," he said.

"A review of the academic curriculum is in order to see the roots of these tendencies with the end in view of changing the curriculum to the long term process of ending military unrest."

Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, chairman of the House defense committee investigating the mutiny, said congressmen are set to file a bill proposing to establish a naval academy, army academy and air force academy.

"Graduates of the PMA believe and see they are the only ones who can run the Armed Forces. We want to have a law that no officers will be contracted unless they are graduates of the naval academy, air force academy, and army so there will be no more factionalism in the Armed Forces," Pichay said.

Unfazed by the threat made by the mutineers that they would no longer attend the hearings, Pichay said they will continue their investigation to focus on the real motives behind the staging of the mutiny.

"The Magdalo leaders walked out and invoked their right to remain silent because they say they don’t want to be asked about their cars, their bank accounts and assets. They are invoking their right to remain silent because they don’t want to say something that might incriminate them," Pichay said.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said eight of the mutineers led by Navy Lt. senior grade Antonio Trillanes IV has placed P1 million investment to a pyramiding scheme.

"Of the eight, only Trillanes has a P1 million investment while the rest invested about P300,000 to P400,000," NBI-International Police Division chief Ricardo Diaz said.

Diaz noted their investment contradicted the officers’ grievances of their meager income.

Earlier, NBI Director Reynaldo Wycoco said Trillanes should explain and itemize his assets, including the eight vehicles registered under his name.

"Maybe he (Trillanes) should be able to explain why apart from the motor vehicles, he had P1 million investment in the Glasgow (Investment House)," he said.

The wheels of military justice finally started rolling yesterday with the first batch of mutineers summoned before a military tribunal.

Unlike the high profile investigations on Trillanes and company, the enlisted men who participated in the failed mutiny were herded silently but forcefully inside the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO) to face a five-man military tribunal headed by Gilberto Jose Roa.

But during the pre-trial proper, the 19 Marines who were the first batch of the accused in the mutiny, refused to accept the charge sheet. — With Des Ferriols, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Paolo Romero, Jaime Laude, Jose Rodel Clapano, Christina Mendez, Roel Pareño, AFP

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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