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Philippines vows troops will remain in Iraq despite terror fears
(Asia Pacific News, 15 March 2004)
President Gloria Arroyo has said Philippine troops would remain in Iraq despite the renewed threat of terrorist attacks in the aftermath of the Spanish train blasts. . . . Arroyo's spokesman Ignacio Bunye said it was too early to blame the surprise defeat of the conservatives in Spain's elections on Sunday on a reaction to the country's support for the invasion of Iraq. . . . The Spanish socialists had pledged during their campaign to bring back Spanish troops posted in Iraq. . . . "There may be other factors that affected the outcome of the Spanish elections and we do not wish to comment on detail on what really happened," Bunye said. [COMMENT: I have it on good authority that the bombing, and only the bombing in Madrid is what changed Spain's political landscape in just 48 hours.] . . . "As far as the Philippine position on Iraq is concernned, we have not seen any nor have detected any change in the posture of the Philippine government," he said. . . . The security forces in the Philippines, one of Washington's staunchest anti-terror allies in Southeast Asia, are on alert to head off similar attacks, Bunye said. . . . "The terrorists have been known to strike their known opponents, but also they strike at the soft target. So what we should do is to keep our guard up at all times," he said. . . . Bunye said the Philippines would continue to work with the new Spanish government to preserve the "long historical and cultural ties between the Philippines and Spain." The Philippines was once a Spanish colony. . . . Calls have been mounting however for the Philippines to immediately repatriate its 96-man contingent serving with Polish troops south of Baghdad. . . . Manuel Villar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said well-organized terrorist attacks endangered the Filipinos. . . . "It is alarming to note that the government deos not have a clear plan on what to do with the volunteers in Iraq, who were supposed to come home more than two weeks ago," Villar said.
posted by LoZo 4:09 PM
Sixteen firms want to hunt for oil in Philippines
(Reuters, March 3, 2004)
The Philippines, a net importer of energy, said on Wednesday 16 foreign firms had submitted bids to develop oil and gas sites in the country's first auction of blocks around its biggest offshore field. . . . The energy department declined to identify the companies, but said firms that had indicated interest in the past included ChevronTexaco Corp, BHP Billiton Petroleum and Total. . . . The Southeast Asian country, struggling to lure investors as it seeks new energy supplies to feed rising domestic demand, offered 46 blocks covering deep to shallow water sites. . . . The blocks -- which range in size from 2,000 to 8,000 sq km -- are near the offshore Malampaya gas field and other oil producing fields close to the southern island of Palawan. . . . The $4.5 billion Malampaya gas project -- the country's largest foreign investment -- is operated by the Royal/Dutch Shell group and U.S.-based Chevron Texaco. Each holds a 45 percent stake, with the government owning the remaining 10 percent. . . . The Philippines said contractors could recover exploration and development costs from 70 percent of gross proceeds. They will get a maximum of 40 percent of the net proceeds, with 60 percent going to the government. . . . The contractors also will not have to pay national taxes. . . . Other firms that had expressed interest in the auction included Unocal Corp, BG Group Plc, Forum Energy Corp and Malaysian state oil company Petronas, an energy department spokeswoman said. . . . She also named Daewoo International Corp, Genting Oil and Gas, Shell Petroleum Exploration BV, ENI Indonesia, Schlumberger Ltd and Western Geco.
[COMMENT: Do you think there is any connection between this and the fact that the US is planning on opening new bases in the Philippines?]
posted by LoZo 1:25 PM
Three military officers detained over coup rumours
(The Manila Bulletin Online, March 2, 2004)
Three Philippine army officers have been detained for questioning over their alleged involvement in a destabilization plot against the government ahead of elections in May, an armed forces spokesman said Tuesday. . . . Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lucero said two lieutenant colonels and one colonel were held last month for allegedly inciting army reservists to join anti-government protests. . . . Lucero said the protests were being planned in the eventuality that the front-runner in the presidential race, action movie star Fernando Poe Junior, was disqualified from the May 10 elections. . . . ''Instead of teaching the reservists military tactics and the art of war, the detained officers were discovered to be recruiting them,'' he said. . . . Poe is facing a disqualification case before the Supreme Court amid allegations he is not a natural-born citizen, a key requirement for running for president in the Philippines. . . . Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Joselito Kakilala said the three officers have already been re-assigned to the southern region of Mindanao after their interrogation. . . . ''Their partisan activities are contained and neutralised,'' he said. . . . Defence Secretary Eduardo Ermita earlier warned of efforts by some groups and individuals to recruit soldiers and policemen to a coup plot against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is trailing Poe in the presidential race. . . . The Supreme Court was to decide on the disqualification case against Poe within the week. . . . In January, three junior army officers were arrested for allegedly plotting to oust Arroyo, who was brought to power by a military-backed mass uprising that ousted former president Joseph Estrada in January 2001. . . . Last year, Arroyo quelled a failed mutiny by some 300 soldiers who seized and booby-trapped a shopping centre in the financial district of Makati in July in a bid to oust her from office.
posted by LoZo 3:03 PM